ASK YOUR GOVERNMENT: Medicare, Social Security number use poses issues
Q. Is there a way to have a different number on one's Medicare card? My concern is that after years of locking up my Social Security number, I was amazed to find it is now my Medicare number. Millions of elderly people have tons of caregivers wit...
Q. Is there a way to have a different number on one's Medicare card? My concern is that after years of locking up my Social Security number, I was amazed to find it is now my Medicare number. Millions of elderly people have tons of caregivers with that information at their fingertips. That does not seem prudent. Any alternatives? I realized this is a federal issue, but perhaps you can help.
- Darlene Peterson, West Fargo, N.D.
A. The North Dakota Insurance Department took this question. Here's what Dave Zimmerman, director of the consumer assistance division, said:
"Unfortunately, she is right -- this is purely a federal issue. So much of the logistical processes associated with Medicare involve the Social Security Administration. They evaluate your income (based on your Social Security number) to determine such things as premium costs for Medicare Part A, B and D, as well as utilize the same information to determine if a person qualifies for Extra Help paying for their prescriptions.
"So much of this process is connected to that Social Security number. That is why CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) places so many resources into training beneficiaries to be very cautious with whom they share the card's information.
"CMS recommends that beneficiaries should not carry the card with them unless they know they are going to a new health care provider for the first time. Otherwise, the cards should be secured in a safe place."
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