Costs dip to make Medicare cards more secure

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 10, 2013

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

New estimates conclude that removing or obscuring Social Security numbers on Medicare identification cards would cost much less than previously thought, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said.

Members of the House Ways and Means Committee long have advocated for changing the beneficiary ID cards to protect seniors from identity theft. During an August 2012 hearing, lawmakers chided CMS officials for not taking action on instructions from Congress and the George W. Bush administration to change the cards. CMS cited projected costs of $850 million that prevented them from acting.

A May 10 cost analysis by CMS shows that providing 55 million new cards that obscure the first five digits of the Social Security number would cost $255 million. Issuing beneficiaries new cards with a unique ID number would cost $317 million. The estimates include costs of cards, customer service and support, and internal systems modifications. The agency identified 71 systems that would need software upgrades and programming.

The new cards could be delivered to patients in 2015 if CMS began the effort this year, the analysis stated.

“It’s time for CMS to act,” said Rep. Sam Johnson (R, Texas). “If they won’t do what’s right for America’s seniors, we will.”

House members have reintroduced legislation that would require the Medicare program to make the change.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn