Because your Medicare Card has a social security number on it, it can be used for Identity Theft.
For a long time I've been advising new Medicare beneficiaries to make a copy of their Red White and Blue Medicare ID card, put the original in their safe in case they need it, (for example, a claim) and take the copy and do the following:
- Line out the first five numbers with a sharpie pen
- Laminate this copy and carry it in your wallet
That way, they were under less risk for Identity Theft, but still, have the original ID card in case it is needed for something.
Now, according to the New York Times, President Obama has signed a new law into effect that will help prevent the need for the advice I've been giving all these years. The main purpose of the law was to overhaul the way doctors are paid for treating Medicare patients. But it makes other changes as well, including a section, that states that Social Security account numbers must not be “displayed, coded or embedded on the Medicare card.”
This is fantastic news for Medicare beneficiaries! No longer must you worry about carrying around an insurance card that puts you at risk for Identity theft. The data breaches that we've had over the last few years solidified the need for the change in law, and we at MedicareQuick are thrilled to see the change.
However, this change is not going to happen soon. Medicare officials have up to four years to start issuing cards without the Social Security numbers, and they have another four years to reissue cards held by current beneficiaries.
If you are a current beneficiary or will be receiving your card within the next four years, my advice stands. Obtain your original Medicare card and make a copy of it. Take the original and place it in your safe (you can pick one up at Costco, Walmart, or even Amazon.
Take the copy and follow the instructions above. It's not a perfect method, but it's much better than carrying your social security number around in your wallet.