New Medicare Cards Coming Soon!
Medicare is removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. This step is to help prevent fraud, help eliminate medical 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. The complete transition will be complete by April 2019. 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 Medicare website for more information. The new card is show below along with explanations about the changes patients may question.
While we have only seen the front of the new card at this time, you can see that there are significant differences. The changes are listed below:
- 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).
- 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).
- Gender designation has been removed from the card
- 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.
- The term “Effective Date” has been changed to “Coverage Starts” but the meaning is the same.
- The Hospital/Medical designations have been removed from the new card leaving just the references to Part A and Part B.
- The signature line has been removed. (This may appear on the back of the new card).
- 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.
All systems need to be able to accept the new MBI format by April 2018; however, you can continue to bill and file claims using either number during the transition period. It will be important to work with your billing vendor in advance to ensure your system reflects these changes by April 2018.
Here are 5 steps you can take today to start getting your office ready for this change:
To learn more, visit: cms.gov/Medicare/SSNRI/Providers/Providers.html
KMC University will continue to post updates and provide tools throughout the transition period. As we are nearing the release date of these new cards, be sure to let your Medicare patients know to be expecting the arrival of their cards in the mail and to provide you with a copy at their first opportunity!