WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will issue new Medicare cards to seniors without Social Security numbers to help protect seniors from fraud and identity theft.
Brown led efforts starting in 2008 to remove this sensitive information from Medicare cards. CMS will being mailing new cards in April 2018, and will replace all cards by April 2019. Currently, seniors’ Social Security numbers double as Medicare ID numbers – putting this information at risk.
“Seniors are advised to carry their Medicare cards wherever they go – this puts them at risk of having this card and their Social Security number land in the wrong hands,” said Brown. “We must do everything we can to protect Ohio seniors and this is a simple way we can do it.”
In April 2015, the Senate passed the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, which included Brown’s provision to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. Brown first introduced bipartisan legislation to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards in 2008 with his Republican colleague, former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
The Social Security Administration (SSA) reminds citizens on its website not to “routinely carry your Social Security card or other documents that display your number” in order to prevent identity theft. However, the federal government itself has ignored this warning by issuing millions of Medicare cards that display Social Security number-based Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICN) on the front of cards. These numbers contain the beneficiary’s Social Security number followed by a letter. On the back of these cards, beneficiaries are advised to carry their cards wherever they go—advice in direct opposition to SSA guidance.