New Medicare ID Numbers Mandatory January 1, 2020
Medicare has removed Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. This step is to help prevent fraud, help eliminate medical identity theft, and to protect program funding and the private healthcare and financial information of our Medicare beneficiaries.
The new Medicare cards, issued by CMS, have a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) that replaces the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN). The new numbers are listed on the cards and in the various CMS systems in use now. The new cards have been mailed to people with Medicare benefits throughout the country. Medicare Handbooks contain additional information about the new cards. Be sure your staff is prepared to answer questions or direct patients to the Medicare website for more information. The new card is show below along with explanations about the changes.
Old Medicare Card vs New Medicare Card
As you can see from the front of the new card, there are significant differences. The changes are listed below:
- The overall card design has been changed enough to make it easy to distinguish from the old card. This will reduce chances your staff might submit an old card after the final transition date of 1/1/2020 (which would delay payment).
- The Medicare 800 number has been removed.
- Gender designation has been removed from the card.
- The old number was comprised of your social security number followed by a letter, such as “A”; the new number is a random series of numbers and capital letters.
- The term “Effective Date” has been changed to “Coverage Starts” but the meaning is the same.
- The Hospital/Medical designations have been removed from the new card leaving just the references to Part A and Part B.
- The signature line has been removed.
- The new card offers information descriptions in both English and Spanish.
CMS has developed a process that allows doctors and other healthcare providers to look up the new MBI using a secure tool at the point of service. The 21-month transition period that ends on 1/1/2020 has made this change easier. But take note: you will NOT be able to use the HICN for billing purposes after 12/31/19. You must use only the MBI.
Medicare Plan Exceptions
Going forward, you may still use either the HICN or the MBI for appeals and related forms.
Adjustments - You can use the HICN indefinitely for some systems (Drug Data Processing, Risk Adjustment Processing, and Encounter Data) and for all records, not just adjustments.
To learn more, visit: cms.gov/Medicare/SSNRI/Providers/Providers.html