The design of the new Medicare cards was recently revealed and the most important change is the absence of the beneficiary's Social Security number on the card. Replacing the SSN is a unique number assigned to each individual. This change was implemented to reduce the growing number of medical identity thefts targeting those over the age of 65.
The Social Security numbers, visible on the front of the old Medicare cards, made it easier for thieves to gain access to sensitive personal information. Because Social Security numbers provide full access to one’s identity, any exposure presents a substantial liability for seniors, as it does for all citizens. The newly assigned unique numbers will limit that access.
The first mailing of the new cards is set for April 2018 with the hopes of having all cards sent out by 2019. Medicare has set up a website to help inform beneficiaries on how the change will play out. Importantly, those who are on Medicare do not need to take any action to receive their new card. If anyone calls claiming to be from Medicare and asks you to verify your information – hang up immediately; it’s a scam.