Beginning this month, April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will begin mailing new Medicare cards to all active Medicare beneficiaries. The roll out is expected to last about a year.
New cards will no longer contain the subscriber’s social security number due to concerns about identity theft. Instead, they will contain a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). MBIs will be 11 characters in length and occupy the same field in Medicare transactions as did the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN).
Practices must be prepared to begin using MBIs immediately as new Medicare patients will only have cards with MBIs.
CMS will accept both HICNs (for patients that were issued a HICN prior to April 1, 2018) and MBIs through Dec. 31, 2019 on Medicare transactions such as eligibility requests and claims.
However, as of Jan. 2020, physicians may only use MBIs borrowing any special exceptions, appeals, etc.
How to Prepare?
Practices will be instrumental in educating and assisting patients with their new cards. To prepare for this transition, you can:
- Train staff members so they are aware of the changes. Review what needs to be changed in your office systems.
- Use Posters: CMS has made available posters such as this one to alert patients about the changes.
- Verify Patient’s Addresses: This should already be standard practice. If a discrepancy is found, ask patients to contact the Social Security Administration to update their records.
- Appointment Reminders: If possible, include prompts in automated systems, or train staff to communicate verbally with patients to bring their new cards to their appointments.
- Communicate with your EHR or Practice Management vendor. Most will likely be aware and ready for the transition. However, software changes can take months. Prepare now by communicating with your vendor and testing office systems for compliance with the MBI format.
If you have any questions or need help getting prepared for the new Medicare Card numbers, call (844) 424-5537 or contact us here.