New Medicare cards offer greater protection to more than 57.7 million Americans
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a new initiative to replace Social Security numbers currently being used on Medicare ID cards with a randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier or MBI. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 (known before as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI) included this requirement to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019.
CMS, in their press release, touts this as a “fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help combat identity theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars.” New cards will begin being issued and mailed as early as April 2018 as part of a 21 month transition period where providers will be able to use both the MBI or the current HICN. The press release notes the increasing number of seniors falling victim to identity theft. It states that Incidents related to identity theft among seniors increased to 2.6 million from 2.1 million between 2012 and 2014, according to the most current statistics from the Department of Justice.
What will the new ID cards look like and what will they mean?
The new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will be:
- Clearly different than the HICN and RRB number
- 11-characters in length
- Made up only of numbers and uppercase letters (no special characters)
Each MBI is unique, randomly generated, and the characters are “non-intelligent,” which means they don’t have any hidden or special meaning.
The MBI won’t change Medicare benefits. People with Medicare may start using their new Medicare cards and MBIs as soon as they get them
How can medical practices get ready?
CMS has outlined several steps they can take ahead of the change:
- Verify all Medicare patients’ addresses, and if the ones on file are different than the Medicare address on electronic eligibility transactions, ask patients to contact Social Security to update their Medicare records.
- Teach patients about the new Medicare cards. Handout education materials
- Print Education Materials or order professional copies.
- Tear Off Sheets
- Product Ordering
- Test system changes and work with billing office staff to ensure readiness for the new MBI format.
- Visit the Medicare Learning Network for free educational materials about CMS’s programs and policies, and sign up for CMS’s weekly MLN Connects newsletter.
- MLN Fact Sheet: Transition to new Medicare Numbers and Cards
- New Medicare Card Design:
- Press Release – New Medicare cards offer greater protection to more than 57.7 million Americans: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2017-Press-releases-items/2017-05-30.html
- CMS new Medicare ID card web portal information page: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/index.html
- New Medicare ID Card Poster
- New Medicare ID Tear Off Sheets
- New Medicare ID Flier
Sources Referenced for this Article: