New Medicare Cards Are Here: Is Fraud Right Behind?

Imagine for a moment trying to get 58 million people to switch out their old driver’s license in favor of a new one that’s sent to them in the mail. You’d likely expect a good bit of confusion and maybe even some fraud.

That’s exactly the situation facing Medicare as it begins a staggered rollout of the new cards to all beneficiaries. The new cards will start arriving in mailboxes this April, with the last cards arriving in April 2019. The new cards have been stripped of Social Security numbers to deter fraud, but the rollout may actually encourage scams and fraudsters, sources told me.

Fraudsters have a new chance to defraud seniors by taking advantage of any confusion surrounding the new card rollout, Andrew Scholnick, a senior legislative representative with the AARP, told me. “We’re reminding everyone that if they get a call purporting to be from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid saying you either have to confirm your Social Security number or pay for your new card, hang up,” Scholnick said.

AARP has already heard that seniors have been getting calls telling them they have to pay for the new cards, Kathy Stokes, a fraud expert with the AARP Fraud Watch Network, told me.

The new cards might also lead to billing issues for providers, George Arges, a senior director for health data management at the American Hospital Association, told me. Providers will need to ensure that their billing systems can pull the new Medicare beneficiary identifier from paid claims if the earlier claim was submitted with the old Medicare number, Arges said. Other challenges may include managing patient quality of care if the admission process takes longer due to new card issues, Arges said.

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