5 ways to prepare for switch to new Medicare cards
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering advice to help physicians prepare to accept the new Medicare cards being issued to deter identity theft. The new cards will have a unique, randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) number instead of the current Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN). CMS will begin sending them out in April 2018 and will have finished by April 2019.  

CMS is developing capabilities that will allow physicians and other clinicians to look up a new MBI through a secure tool at the point of service. To make the change easier, there will be a 21-month transition period during which clinicians can use either the MBI or the HICN for billing purposes. So, even though physicians’ systems must be able to accept the new MBI format by April 2018, they can continue to bill and file health care claims using a patient’s HICN during the transition period. CMS encourages physicians to work with their billing vendors to make sure that their systems are updated to reflect these changes, as well. 

Medicare patients will begin using the new cards in April 2018. Here are five steps to help your office or health care facility get ready: 
  1. Go to the CMS provider website and sign up for the weekly MLN Connects®newsletter.
  2. Attend CMS’ quarterly calls to get more information. CMS will let subscribers know when calls are scheduled in the MLN Connects newsletter.
  3. Verify all of your Medicare patients’ addresses. If an address you have on file is different from the Medicare address you get on electronic eligibility transactions, ask that patient to contact Social Security and update that patient’s Medicare records.
  4. Work with CMS to help your Medicare patients adjust to their new Medicare cards. When they become available later this fall, you can display helpful information about the new Medicare cards. Hang posters about the change in your offices to help us spread the word.
  5. Test your system changes and work with your billing office staff to be sure your office is ready to use the new MBI format.
To learn more, visit: www.cms.gov/Medicare/SSNRI/Providers/Providers.html.