Making Medicare cards safer
For the past three years, people have been after the federal government to stop the printing of social security numbers on Medicare cards, something which has placed people at risk for losing their finances due to identity theft. The federal government has finally listened. Back in April, President Barack Obama signed off on legislation along with other things stating that it will end the usage of social security numbers as being the identifier on Medicare cards.
Sam Johnson, a Texas republican who has been fighting for this stated that this is certainly a good step ahead. The problem which has been faced with social security numbers on Medicare cards has been around for long, in fact too long. He has been working on the issue since 2008.
He stated that amongst the priorities is that this gets done as soon as possible because to take off the social security number from the Medicare card is not an easy task. He has no idea regarding how long it will take to get the task done but he estimates that it should take around 4 years.
The main reason due to which the law was adopted with broad bipartisan support was for overhauling the way doctors were paid for the treatment of Medicare patients. However this does lead to other change as well which includes that social security numbers shouldn’t be displayed, coded or even embedded into these Medicare cards.
According to the new law, officials of Medicare have been given almost 4 years to begin the issuance of cards along with their new identifiers. They then have 4 additional years to reissue the cards which are held by current recipients of Medicare.
The law has directed the US Department of Health and Human Services to come up with a cost effective procedure which consists of the least amount of disruption along with necessary assistance to be provided to health care providers and beneficiaries of Medicare.
The social security number of an individual is the most critical and personal form of identification. It is the way to one’s financial life and if someone else gets a hold of it, it can lead to the life of a person undergoing great hell. It is mostly senior individuals who are the targets of identity theft because they carry around their Medicare card with them everything so that they can obtain medical services. This is what causes their social security number to become vulnerable.
In the past, many people have urged officials to stop the use of social security numbers as identification. A number of private health insurance companies have already stopped using these numbers as means of identification. Officials have however stated that alerting the social security number on Medicare cards is likely to have high costs associated with it and the volume of changes and systems and operational issues are great barriers.
In order to pay for this change, the new law has set aside money from the trust fund of Medicare which is financed with taxes as well as by premiums which are paid by those who receive Medicare.