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VA to issue new health care ID cards

Feb. 25, 2014 - 01:18PM   |  
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The Veterans Affairs Department will replace millions of identification cards for veterans who use the Veterans Health Administration system for medical care, the VA announced Feb. 20.

Veterans new to the system will get the cards, called the Veterans Health Identification Cards, or VHICs, when they first enroll in the VA health care system.

VA will start mailing the new cards to current holders of the Veteran Identification Card starting in April, with completion expected by July.

The new VHICs will feature updated security measures and will no longer contain the holder’s Social Security number and date of birth embedded in the card’s magnetic strip — a vulnerability VA identified in the current cards as early as 2011.

Anyone with a bar code app on a smartphone can scan the current cards and learn the cardholders’ Social Security numbers.

The new cards, which will function like health insurance cards, have a unique identification number not associated with the cardholder’s Social Security number, in the magnetic strip.

“These new identification cards are an important step forward in protecting our nation’s heroes from identity theft and other personal crimes,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said.

The cards also will feature the holder’s photo, health plan number, level of coverage and a branch of service logo.

VA is encouraging veterans to make sure their current mailing address is on file to ensure quick delivery of the VHICs.

The current cards that are being phased out were introduced in 2004. A VA spokeswoman said the estimated cost of the replacement project was not available.

VA recommends veterans shred their old cards once they receive the replacement.

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