Or will it be too little, too late?

If you’re not yet old enough to qualify for Medicare coverage, you may not realize that Medicare cards are distinctly old-fashioned: They are simply laminated cards that openly display that most traditional (and vulnerable) of identifiers, the Social Security number (SSN).

The Medicare Common Access Card Act of 2015, or H.R. 3220, aims to finally update those cards, replacing them with machine-readable, fraud-resistant “chip and pin” cards that would not reveal any personally identifiable information.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), about $60 billion of Medicare fraud and abuse takes place each year. Based on a review of 739 healthcare fraud cases that were resolved in 2010, the GAO estimates that fully implementing H.R. 3220 would curb 22 percent of that abuse, resulting in $13.2 billion in annual savings.

GAO’s research found that smart cards could help reduce six specific types of fraud:

  • Billing for services that were never actually provided
  • >Misusing a provider’s identification information to bill fraudulently
  • Misusing a beneficiary’s identification information to bill fraudulently
  • Billing more than once for the same service by altering a small portion of the claim
  • Providing services to ineligible individuals
  • Falsifying a substantial part of the records to indicate the beneficiaries or providers were present at the point of care

Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA) members have jointly endorsed H.R. 3220, and Ann Patterson, MIFA senior vice president and program director, spoke in favor of the bill in March 2016 at a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill. She is strongly in favor of the bill’s passage but also describes it as “just one piece of the puzzle.”

“Social Security numbers are the gateway to all sorts of identity fraud, and we need to do a much better job of protecting those numbers,” she said. “At the same time, we need to recognize that removing the numbers is not a silver bullet that will immediately end all identity theft or all Medicare fraud and abuse.”

Click here to read the full blog entry by ID Experts.

July 27, 2016 By Christine Arevalo, ID Experts