The government started sending out new Medicare cards, launching a massive, yearlong effort to alter how 59 million people enrolled in the federal health insurance program are identified. Historically, Medicare ID cards have been stamped with the Social Security numbers of members. But that has been problematic: If a wallet or purse is stolen, a thief can use that information, along with an address or birthdate on a driver’s license, to steal someone’s identity.
The new cards address such concerns by removing each member’s Social Security number and replacing it with a new, randomly generated, 11-digit “Medicare number” (some capital letters are included). It will be used to verify eligibility for services and for billing purposes going forward.
Source: Orange County Register and www.medicare.gov