New Medicare ID Cards: Ways to Prepare

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, identity theft, and protect essential program funding. It will also serve to protect 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). This will replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number both on the cards and in various CMS systems. We’ll start mailing new cards to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018. All Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019.

CMS helps providers by giving them the tools they need. They want to make this process as easy as possible for you, your patients, and your staff. Based on feedback from healthcare providers, 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 an easy change, there is a 21-month transition period. During this time all healthcare providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN for billing purposes.

Therefore, even though your systems must 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 ensure that your system is updated to reflect these changes.

Beginning in April 2018, Medicare patients will come to your office with new cards in hand. CMS will give you the information you need to help your office get ready for new Medicare cards and MBIs.

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

1. Go to CMS’s provider website and sign-up for the weekly MLN Connects® newsletter.

2. Attend CMS’s quarterly calls to get more information. We’ll let you know when calls are scheduled in the MLN Connects newsletter.

3. Verify all of your Medicare patients’ addresses. If the addresses you have on file differ from the Medicare address on electronic 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 CMS spread the word.

5. Test your system changes and work with your billing office staff to ensure your office is ready for the new MBI format.

CMS will keep working closely with you to answer your questions and hear your concerns. To learn more, visit: