New Medicare Cards - Are You Ready?

Medicare is taking steps to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. Through this initiative the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will prevent fraud, fight identity theft and protect essential program funding and the private healthcare and financial information of our Medicare beneficiaries.

CMS will issue new Medicare cards with a new unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) both on the cards and in various CMS systems. New cards will begin mailing to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018. All Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019.

CMS is committed to helping providers by giving them the tools they need and wants to make this process as easy as possible for you, your patients, and your staff. Based on feedback from healthcare providers, practice managers and other stakeholders, CMS is developing capabilities where doctors and other healthcare providers will be able to look up the new MBI through a secure tool at the point of service. To make this change easier for you and your business operations, there is a 21-month transition period where all healthcare providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN for billing purposes.

Therefore, even though your systems will need to be able to accept the new MBI format by April 2018, you can continue to bill and file healthcare claims using a patient’s HICN during the transition period. We encourage you to work with your billing vendor to make sure that your system will be updated to reflect these changes as well.

You will need to be ready for new Medicare cards and MBIs beginning in April 2018.

Here are 5 steps you can take today to help your office or healthcare facility get ready:

  1. Go to the CMS provider website and sign-up for the weekly MLN Connects® newsletter.
  2. Attend the CMS quarterly calls to get more information. Calls are scheduled in the MLN Connects newsletter.
  3. Verify all of your Medicare patients’ addresses. If the addresses you have on file are different than the Medicare address you get on electronic eligibility transactions, ask your patients to contact Social Security and update their Medicare records.
  4. Work with CMS to help your Medicare patients adjust to their new Medicare card. When available later this fall, you can display helpful information about the new Medicare cards. Hang posters about the change in your offices to help us spread the word.
  5. Test your system changes and work with your billing office staff to be sure your office is ready to use the new MBI format.

To learn more, visit: cms.gov

New Medicare Cards

New Medicare Card Project Special Open Door Forum - January 23

Tuesday, January 23 from 2 to 3 pm ET

This call will educate State Medicaid Agencies, Medicaid providers, Managed Care Organizations, Medicaid partners, and other Medicaid stakeholders about the change from Social Security Number-based Health Insurance Claim Numbers to new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs). A question and answer session follows the presentation. This is the same presentation given on  November 9.

CMS discusses:

  • Background and implementation
  • MBI format
  • Timeline and milestones, including the transition period
  • Beneficiary outreach and education
  • How to get ready for the new number

Dial in at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the call.

For More Information

Provider Ombudsman, Dr. Eugene Freund: NMCProviderQuestions@cms.hhs.gov

Bob Cantlay

About Bob Cantlay

I have been working for the Southern Medical Association since 2004 and hold Bachelor of Science degrees in both Business Administration & Computer Science, as well as a Masters of Management. Outside of work, my wife and two kids are the center of activity; but occasionally I get away long enough to play Ultimate (Frisbee Football). I also have a newfound interest in kayaking.

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