March 19, 2018
Area(s) of Interest: Fraud & Abuse Licensing & Regulatory Issues
Seniors in California are being targeted by a new Medicare card phone scam. Medicare beneficiaries are getting calls from scammers telling them their new Medicare card will arrive between April and June 2018, which is true.
However, they go on to state beneficiaries must first buy a temporary card for $5.00 to $50.00 and provide personal information before they receive their new Medicare card. THIS IS NOT TRUE.
It is true that Medicare is issuing a newly designed Medicare card, which will contain the unique, randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identification (MBI) number replacing the current Social Security-based number.
These new cards are free, and Medicare will not call patients about their new card. Cards will be mailed to the mailing addresses on file with Social Security. Patients who need to update their mailing address should go to www.ssa.gov/myaccount.
Physicians are encouraged to warn their Medicare patients of this scam. California Health Advocates has prepared tips on how seniors can protect themselves and where to report such scams. Tip sheets are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian and Farsi.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has also developed a web page to help physicians navigate the transition to the new MBI number, including a recently developed resource on how to talk to your Medicare patients about the new Medicare card. Physicians should also talk to their practice managers and health IT vendors now to ensure their systems will be ready to accept the MBI.