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Medicare’s Transition from Social Security Numbers to Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI)

Medicare is removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards

This step is to help prevent fraud, help eliminate identity theft, and to protect program funding and the private healthcare and financial information of our Medicare beneficiaries.

The new Medicare cards, issued by CMS, will have a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) that will replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN). The new numbers will be used on the cards and in the various CMS systems in use now. The new cards will be mailed to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018. A roll out for each state is listed here. Find your state and make note of the date.

Update

According to CMS, as of August 31, 2018 they have mailed nearly 35 million cards and are currently processing claims and eligibility requests with the new MBI. They started mailing new cards to people with Medicare who live in Wave 6 states in early September 2018 and finished mailing cards to people who live in Waves 1, 2, 3 and 4 states. Because card mailing is progressing so well, they updated the mailing schedule to include an approximate start date for the last wave. ALL cards should be mailed by April 2019.

Patient Didn’t Receive New Card?

If someone with Medicare says they didn’t get a card after their mailing wave ends, you should instruct them to:

  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) where we can verify their identity, check their address and help them get their new card.
  • Continue to use their current card to get health care services until they get their new card.

The 2018 Medicare Handbooks contain additional information about the new cards. Be sure your staff is prepared to answer questions or direct patient’s to the helpful resources listed below.

Helpful Patient Resources

The new card is shown below along with explanations about the changes patients may question. In order for patients to receive their insurance card they need to make sure their address is up to date with the Social Security office.

The changes are listed below:

New Medicare Cards - April 2018
  1. The overall card design has been changed enough to make it easy to distinguish from the old card. This will reduce chances your staff might submit an old card after the transition date (which would delay payment).
  2. The Medicare 800 number has been removed (this may appear on the back of the new card, but this has not been confirmed at this time).
  3. Gender designation has been removed from the card
  4. The old number was comprised of your social security number followed by the letter “A”; the new number is a random series of numbers and capital letters.
  5. The term “Effective Date” has been changed to “Coverage Starts” but the meaning is the same.
  6. The Hospital/Medical designations have been removed from the new card leaving just the references to Part A and Part B.
  7. The signature line has been removed. (This may appear on the back of the new card).
  8. The new card offers information descriptions in both English and Spanish.

CMS is developing a process that will allow doctors and other healthcare providers to look up the new MBI using a secure tool at the point of service. The 21-month transition period will make this change easier for you and your practice as you will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN for billing purposes during the transition period from April 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019. However, you can continue to bill and file claims using either number during the transition period. Here are 5 steps you can take today to start getting your office ready for this change:

Get Ready for New Medicare Cards

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