Prepare Now for New Medicare Card Numbers

Medical Billing

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Medicare is in the process of removing social security numbers from Medicare cards. This change will help the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to prevent fraud and identity theft, and protect beneficiary funding and financial information. Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) numbers will replace the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards. Unlike the HICN, which is based on the beneficiary’s social security number, the MBI is unique, randomly generated and does not have any hidden or special meaning. It will be 11 characters long, made up of numbers and uppercase letters. The MBI is confidential and should be protected like any other personally identifiable information.

The new cards will be mailed beginning in April 2018, and all cards will be replaced by April 2019. Individuals who receive their new Medicare cards may use them right away. The effective date of the new cards is the same as the date the beneficiary was eligible for Medicare.

For health care providers, the transition from HICN to MBI will take place over a 21-month period from April 2018 through December 2019. Several resources are available from the CMS to help providers transition smoothly.

  • Open Door Forums are being held online every quarter so that the CMS can get feedback from providers as to how the transition to the new Medicare cards and MBI numbers is going.
  • Medicare Card Messaging Guidelines will help providers talk with consumers about the new cards.
  • A new Frequently Asked Questions document about the new Medicare card project is available for providers.

The CMS is developing a way for healthcare providers to look up the new MBI through a secure tool that will be available in June 2018. Providers can continue to file claims using HICN numbers during this transition period. When providers submit a claim with a patient’s HICN, CMS will return both the HICN and the MBI on every remittance advice. The MBI will be located in the same place where the “changed HICN” currently appears.

Beginning in January 2020, claims must be submitted using MBIs regardless of the date of service.

For resources and updates to help you be ready for the new Medicare cards, visit the CMS website:

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