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Social Security Numbers to be Jettisoned from Medicare Cards

At long last, Medicare is removing Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards.

For any years the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the Medicare health insurance program, resisted pressure to make this change. In 2015, however, Congress passed the Medicare Access and ChiP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) requiring CMS to replace the existing Medicare claim numbers, which are currently based on individuals’ Social Security numbers.

This move is expected to reduce medical identity theft for Medicare beneficiaries. It is also expected to decrease the amount of Medicare fraud, saving the government and tax payers money.

All Medicare beneficiaries are required to have new Medicare numbers by April 2019.

There are two terms to know:

1. Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICNs) are the current numbers on Medicare cards. They are usually the beneficiary’s Social Security number plus a letter.

2. Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs) are the new claim numbers. The new number will consist of 11 characters – randomly generated numbers and uppercase letters. Each MBI will be unique and “non-intelligent,” meaning they won’t have any hidden or special meaning. The MBIs will be used for Medicare transactions such as billing, eligibility status, and claim status.

CMS will begin mailing the new Medicare cards with the new MBIs in April of this year. It will randomize the mailings by geographic location. All beneficiaries should have their new card by April 2019.

The period from April 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019 will be a transition period during which medical providers and patients with Medicare can use either the HICNs or the MBIs to submit claims. Following the transition period, the old HICNs can still be used to appeal or check the status of a claim made prior to January 1, 2020. Beginning January 1, 2020, all new claims will need to be made with the new MBIs.

As with Social Security numbers each MBI will be confidential. Both beneficiaries and medical providers will need to safeguard these numbers.

To see an image of the new Medicare card design, click here. 

*Medicare Cards will have a new design beginning April 2018.*

This blog is published to provide you with general information only, and is not intended to provide specific or comprehensive advice.  Money Care, LLC encourages individuals to seek advice from competent professionals when appropriate.