New Cards for Medicare Recipients Will Omit Social Security Numbers
WASHINGTON — Concerned about the rising prevalence and sophistication of identity theft, most private health insurance companies have abandoned the use of Social Security numbers to identify individuals. The federal government even forbids private insurers to use the numbers on insurance cards when they provide medical or drug benefits under contract with Medicare.
But Medicare itself has continued the practice, imprinting Social Security numbers on more than 50 million benefit cards despite years of warnings from government watchdogs that it placed millions of people at risk for financial losses from identity theft.
That is about to change, after President Obama signed a bill last week that will end the use of those numbers on Medicare cards.
“The Social Security number is the key to identity theft, and thieves are having a field day with seniors’ Medicare cards,” said Representative Sam Johnson, Republican of Texas, who pushed for the change with Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat.
New York Times | By Robert Pear
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