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Congress has announced by April 2019 all Medicare recipients will be issued new Medicare cards that will NOT have the recipient’s social security splashed across the front of the card. Your new card will have randomly generated digits and letters to protect seniors from identity theft. About time, right? How long has this been a concern?

new medicare cards issued for better security

The rumor right now is that the new card already has an acronym which will be MBI (Medicare Beneficiary Identifier). No proof or final draft has been produced yet, but the new MBI card will supposedly have 11 characters which will be a combination of upper-case letters, lower-case-letters, and numbers.

For years this has been a big topic of conversation between myself and my clients. We all come to the same conclusion every time, we put men on the moon in the 1960’s but we can’t create a Medicare card to protect our senior citizens?

Because of this government ignorance I always tell my clients to make a copy of their Medicare card, take a black permanent marker and black out the last four digits of the SS number on that copy, then make a copy of that copy and cut it to size, laminate the second copy and carry that card.

When you carry that card and by chance if you should lose it no one has access to your social security numbers. But then again, why should seniors need to go through all that? Why should they have to worry about losing their card?

Now that we are on the subject of our government, let’s not assume this will be a seamless transition. From what we are told, the Trump administration will coordinate with beneficiaries, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, insurance carriers, state governments etc. to roll this out over a 21-month period.

Can anyone say Obama Care? Anyone remember the mess it created trying to roll the program out on the computer system? How long did it take to be fixed? Is it fixed?

Let me say this now, do NOT automatically destroy your old card once your new one is issued. At least make sure your new health care claims are being paid in proper fashion before discarding your old Medicare card. We have over 57 million Medicare recipients in the United States, accidents are going to happen going through this transition.

No one is going to disagree about this good news on the horizon. We know that the senior market is the biggest target in this country regarding fraud and identity theft. In fact, I was reading there was a 24% increase from 2012 to 2014 during which 2.6 million incidents were recorded.

How many parents and grandparents had to endure the costs of fraud? And to think no one in our government over the last 50 years thought putting social security numbers on Medicare cards would have been a terrible idea. In an age where most of the news is doom, gloom, and fake news, this is a nice change of pace for once…great news for our country’s seniors.


Joe Bachmeier is a co-founder of BGA Insurance Group

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