Addressing a long-standing identity theft risk, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently introduced legislation to require the federal government to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare identification cards and communications to Medicare beneficiaries. Admittedly, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the Medicare program, has fallen behind most other public and private organizations in recognizing the danger of displaying Social Security numbers. The Social Security Number Protection Act ensures that the Social Security numbers of Medicare beneficiaries will be properly protected.
According to Durbin, “This bill would ensure that a premium is placed on security and that personal information is protected.”
33 States have already passed laws prohibiting health insurers from using a Social Security Number on a beneficiary’s card or otherwise displaying it. In addition, the federal government has stopped using Social Security Numbers on Veteran Identification Cards, Department of Defense identification cards, and health insurance cards issued to federal employees participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program.
The new legislation sets a timeframe for CMS to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards and communications to beneficiaries. The bill will:
Require the Health and Human Services Secretary to implement procedures to eliminate the unnecessary collection, use, and display of Social Security numbers of Medicare beneficiaries within three years;
Prohibit the display or the unencrypted electronic storage of Social Security numbers on newly issued Medicare cards;
Prohibit the display or the unencrypted electronic storage of Social Security numbers on all Medicare cards within five years of enactment; and
Prohibit the display of Social Security numbers on written and electronic communications to Medicare beneficiaries, unless essential for the operation of the Medicare program.
For more information on identity theft protection please visit www.hvshred.com