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SSN on Medicare card- how to avoid?
Old 07-17-2014, 10:05 AM   #1
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SSN on Medicare card- how to avoid?

On another forum there was a discussion of the hazards of ID theft from carrying SS cards around in your purse or wallet. That's silly, I thought- I memorized mine years ago and so did DH. No need to carry around a card.

Then I remembered that DH's Medicare card (he signed up a couple of months ago when I retired) is emblazoned with his SS number followed by an A. Umm, yeah, that will fool ID thieves. Insurance companies were forced years ago to stop using the SSN as a "policy number" on cards they gave insureds. Why is the gubmint still doing it? And what would happen if DH sliced out the section with his SSN and just told the health-care providers in person on request? Unfortunately he's got a very common name, so just looking up somewhere to see if he's covered would yield a few thousand beneficiaries with the same name.

And how can I get this changed? I have the sinking feeling that writing to my Congress person will just get me on their mailing list asking for campaign contributions.
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Old 07-17-2014, 10:15 AM   #2
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From a February Reuters article on the subject, the cost to make the change is prohibitive:

Quote:
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers Medicare, acknowledges that Social Security numbers should be removed from Medicare cards. But in a statement, CMS said it would be an expensive fix. The agency also says it can't move unilaterally, but would need to cooperate with the Social Security Administration and other agencies.

CMS depends on more than 200 IT systems, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. CMS estimates it would cost $255 million to $317 million to fix the problem, according to a GAO report. That's just the direct cost to the federal government, and doesn't include the expense for physicians and other healthcare providers to adjust their systems, or the cost to the states.
Suggested ways to protect your SS#:

Quote:
-- Don't carry the [Medicare] card. AARP suggests that beneficiaries ignore, for now, Medicare's guidance to carry their cards at all times. It's unnecessary in most cases, it says.

"Most healthcare providers have their patients in their electronic systems and know how to bill them," says Hurme. "But if you really don't feel comfortable not having it with you, then make a photocopy and scratch out all but the last four digits, and carry that instead. That should be enough to meet their billing protocols."
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Old 07-17-2014, 10:17 AM   #3
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Thanks- I like that suggestion!
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Old 07-17-2014, 01:50 PM   #4
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Oh great. Another thing to look forward to. After fund companies and about everyone else finally stopped putting SS numbers out on docs sent through the mail. I thought the gubmint was trying to be a leader against SSN abuse.

I wonder about that "A" after the SSN. Could that have been added for a thin CYA to say that the SSN is not on the card?

A few years to go before I'm Medicare-able. Hopefully resolved by then.
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Old 07-17-2014, 02:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Telly View Post
I wonder about that "A" after the SSN. Could that have been added for a thin CYA to say that the SSN is not on the card?
Probably. Our insurance agent, who needed the number on the card for DH's Medicare Supplement application (he hadn't gotten the card yet) said that the number on it would be his SS # plus an A at the end, so the letter doesn't even vary.

I'm reminded of the days when my university (graduated 1975) would publicly post midterm and final grades by SS number. They must have gotten complaints about that so they changed their practice. They published them by SS number but with the order of the digits reversed within each number.
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Old 07-17-2014, 02:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telly View Post
I wonder about that "A" after the SSN. Could that have been added for a thin CYA to say that the SSN is not on the card?
The "A" os one of 34 frequently used 'benefits codes'.

"A" indicates a wageearner applying for normal retirement benefits, that is, you're the 'primary claimant' in SSese.

More exciting codes revealed here: Code Key for Medicare Card Explained - AARP
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Old 07-18-2014, 07:16 AM   #7
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I carry mine and don't worry much about it. I suspect that anyone sophisticated enough to make use of your SSN is also sophisticated enough to get a copy if they found your drivers license and a few credit cards without the SSN. For many years my DC dirvers license number was my SSN as was the number on my Federal ID. But I do have my credit frozen so no one can open new lines of credit in my name/#.
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