The CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has acknowledged that its card-based coverage system has flaws. There have been too many documented cases of Medicaid and Medicare fraud in recent years for the organization to overlook the problem. They have announced that they will soon be providing a solution to the problem, which should help protect the millions of members who rely on the coverage.
They aren’t doing away with the card-based system, but they are changing the cards. Much like the banks that introduced the chip-embedded credit- and debit cards, CMS recognized the need for an added level of protection. Chip readers weren’t the answer, but they did discover that they could create a new system of number identification.
Senior citizens, in particular, were at high risk with the current card number identification system, according to the CMS. Identity theft is a major threat at any stage of life, but senior citizens are too often targeted by the criminals. More than two and a half million seniors suffered from some degree of identity theft in 2014. This can lead to destroyed credit ratings, direct financial losses, and fraudulent medical claims. The CMS has concluded that the old card format made it too easy for seniors to be taken advantage of.
The new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will provide a truly unique and randomly-assigned number for each member, to better defend against identity theft. Of course, the organization understands the trouble this can cause for medical facilities providing care for Medicare and Medicaid patients. Therefore, the CMS has announced that it will allow for a 21 month transition period, during which time either the original Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) or the new MBI can be used.
Once the new cards are issued, beneficiaries will be asked to fully destroy current cards and to use the new MBI numbered cards instead.