Concerns over social security numbers printed on Medicare cards

Posted at: 08/28/2013 5:32 PM | Updated at: 08/28/2013 7:24 PM

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Thanks to a tip from one of our viewers, News10NBC learned that the federal government prints social security numbers directly onto Medicare cards.

News10NBC confronted the Medicare office and in their response, they all, but admit they know it's a problem. But they also say they can't fix it because they're not getting the money to do it.

On the face of every Medicare card, under the header, Medicare claim number the government stamps is your social security number.

Ian Thomas is a Medicare recipient. He copied his card, blacked out his social security number, copied it again and keeps that in his wallet.

Thomas said, “If you lose your wallet, it's no problem because they won't have access to your social security card. That's why I've done it.”

Thomas got the idea from Jim Lynd, an advocate for seniors at Lifespan. He talked about personal identity security at the Webster Senior Center.

Jim Lynd, Lifespan, said, “If a scammer gets a hold of your social security number or your Medicare card number, because they're the same, they own you.”

News10NBC asked the Center for Medicare Services why they do it. In an email, they say Medicare and social security are linked and that the number is "part of the identifier used to process claims."
But they're obviously aware of the concern because they also say they're looking at "options to remove the social security number from Medicare cards."But the office says it's "complex and costly" and right now, there is "no source of funding" from Congress.

Ian Thomas says the government manages to keep his number off his official VA card. He can't understand why it can't do the same with his Medicare card.

Thomas said, “So why the government prints it on there, I don't know.”

News10NBC is in the process of asking our members of Congress if they think we should spend the money to get the social security numbers off the Medicare cards. For now, the best advice is take your Medicare and social security cards out of your wallet and purse, photocopy them, black the numbers out and use that. The only exception is if you have to use your card at a new place for the very first time.

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