New Medicare ID Cards Coming Soon

Posted on March 22, 2018

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards as part of efforts to help reduce identify theft. The new cards will use a unique, randomly assigned number known as a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently used on Medicare cards. The CMS will begin mailing new cards in April 2018 based on randomly selected geographic locations and expects to meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019. 

Providers and Medicare beneficiaries will be able to use secure look-up tools that will support access to MBIs when they need them. In addition, the CMS is providing a 21-month transition period, from April 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2019, when providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN. 

The CMS will monitor the transition and adjustment to the new MBIs to ensure widespread adoption so Medicare operations are not interrupted. The CMS also plans to test systems that use the MBI, including enhanced integration testing for new or high-risk systems. However, since providers can use either HICNs or MBIs to submit claims during the transition period, the CMS is not offering end-to-end testing with Medicare fee-for-service claims processing systems. 

The MBI will be 11 characters that consist of numbers and uppercase letters with no special characters. Each MBI is unique and randomly generated, with “nonintelligent” characters that have no hidden or special meaning. Beneficiaries may start using the new Medicare cards and MBIs as soon as they receive them, then safely and securely destroy their current Medicare cards. 

The MHA encourages hospitals and other providers to ensure that their systems are prepared for the change from HICNs to MBIs. Members with questions are encouraged to visit the CMS webpage on this topic or contact Vickie Kunz at the MHA.

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Tags: Medicare, MACRA, MBI, HICN

Posted in: Member News

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