The cards will feature a unique and randomly assigned number to help protect against identity theft and fraud.
In an effort to fight against Medicare fraud and abuse, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new Medicare cards without Social Security numbers (SSN) to people with Medicare, according to a release.
By replacing the SSN-based health insurance claim number on all Medicare cards, CMS claims it is better protecting private healthcare and financial information and federal healthcare benefit and service payments.
Each card features a unique, randomly assigned Medicare number known as a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier — a combination of letters and numbers that helps protect against personal identity theft.
>> READ: Keeping HIPAA Compliance Efforts Up to Date
CMS has sent new cards to more than 61 million people with Medicare across the U.S. over the past nine months. The cards were issued three months earlier than the April deadline.
“The Trump Administration is committed to modernizing Medicare and has expedited this process to ensure the protection of Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayer dollars from the potential for fraud and abuse due to personal information that existed on the old cards,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma, MPH.
The new cards come just three months after a data breach hit CMS, affecting an estimated 94,000 people.
The cards also come three months after Anthem, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, agreed to pay $16 million to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for allowing several cyberattacks to compromise the protected health information of almost 79 million people — the largest health data breath in U.S. history. Fines issued by the OCR are based on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations.
And while there are ways to ensure HIPAA compliance, such as monitoring personal health information to protect it and identifying high-risk assets, and measures to take to prevent data breaches, cybercrimes and fraud are still happening.
Though all of this may seem daunting, one study has found that machine learning could be a useful tool in detecting Medicare fraud.
Only time will tell if the new Medicare cards better protect against personal identity theft and fraud, or if the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier numbers are just another small roadblock for cyberattackers in their attempt to steal personal data.
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