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5 Ways to Prepare for New Medicare Card Numbers

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   June 22, 2017

Get ready for CMS to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

In less than a year, CMS will start sending new Medicare cards to beneficiaries, and the agency wants providers to be ready for the change.

In an effort to protect its beneficiaries from fraud and identity theft, the agency will be removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. Instead, the cards will have a randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). CMS will start mailing new cards in April 2018, and says that all Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019.

Although there will be a 21-month transition period where healthcare providers will be able to use either the new MBI or old Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number billing purposes, CMS says their systems will need to be able to accept the new MBI format by April 2018.

To help providers prepare for the new cards and numbers, CMS has outlined five steps they can take ahead of the change:

  1. 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.
  2. Attend CMS’s quarterly calls (find out when they’re scheduled in the MLN Connects newsletter) to hear updates and ongoing information for healthcare providers about the Social Security Number Removal Initiative.
  3. 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.
  4. Teach patients about the new Medicare cards. Hang posters and other information that CMS will make available in the fall.
  5. Test system changes and work with billing office staff to ensure readiness for the new MBI format.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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