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Coming April 2018: ALL Medicare Patients Will Carry Brand New ID Cards
Posted on: 10/24/2017


In about six months, more than 57.7 million new Medicare ID cards will enter the postal mail system in the United States – on their way to beneficiaries.  


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is preparing an initiative designed to combat fraud and better protect patients.

The big change is that the cards will no longer contain social security numbers. Instead, they will use a unique, randomly-selected number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), an 11-digit number using alpha and numeric characters. In April 2018, the MBI will replace the current Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), which is based on the individual’s social security number.  

Medicare is also proposing a transition period that will span from April 2018 through Dec. 31, 2019, in which practices will be able to use both the new MBI and the current HICN. However, the MBI will be the only identifier accepted after Dec. 31, 2019

Important to note: Beginning April 1, 2018, all newly enrolled Medicare beneficiaries will be issued an MBI only. So even though the transition extends through 2019, MBIs will be the only identifier for new Medicare beneficiaries when the initiative begins.

What action can practices take now to prepare?

  1. Advise Medicare beneficiaries that their identification cards will be changing. 
  2. Verify all of your Medicare patients' addresses. If the addresses you have on file are different from the Medicare addresses you receive on electronic eligibility transactions, ask your patients to contact the Social Security Administration to update their Medicare records.
  3. Test your system and work with your billing staff to ensure that your medical office will be ready to use the new MBI format.

To help members with the transition, ISMS is planning to develop a dedicated web page, publish a corresponding Issue Brief and offer a webinar for physicians and office staff. The ISMS Division of Member Advocacy is also available to provide individualized assistance to members and their practice staff upon request. 

If you have questions in the meantime, contact us at 800-782-4767 ext. 1470, or by email.

You may also visit CMS' New Medicare Cards web site.

People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of personal identity theft. Not only  do these victims experience financial loss, damaged credit ratings and many more difficulties, this type of crime can also result in inaccuracies with medical records and, of course, false claims.

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