Medicare is taking steps to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. Through this initiative the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is trying to prevent fraud, fight identity theft and protect essential program funding and the private healthcare and financial information of Medicare beneficiaries.
CMS will issue new Medicare cards with a new unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) both on the cards and in various CMS systems that are in use now. CMS will start mailing new cards to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018. All Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019.
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 change easier for physicians and their business operations, there is a 21-month transition period where all healthcare providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN for billing purposes.
Therefore, even though your systems will need to be able to 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. However, you need to work with your billing vendor to make sure that your system will be updated to reflect these changes as soon as possible.
Beginning in April 2018, Medicare patients will come to your office with new cards in hand.