To improve security and comply with the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act of 2015, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, declared its intention to begin issuing Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers & new Medicare cards.
Starting in 2018, CMS will transition away from SSNs and Health Insurance Claim Numbers, or HICNs, in favor of non-personally identifying Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers, or MBIs.
Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers
In the new program, known as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative, or SSNRI, CMS plans on working to minimize the burdens that the transition places on beneficiaries and care providers.
For instance, it will generate and assign some 150 million unique MBIs for new Medicare beneficiaries and individuals who have been compromised by identity theft.
It also plans on creating Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers for archived Medicare records and those associated with deceased individuals.
Although the Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers format shares the HICN’s 11-character standard, CMS intends for it to be easily distinguishable from the old identifiers and easy to read.
As such, all MBIs will include alphabetic characters at the same positions and exclude certain letters that might be confusable with numbers.
For caregivers, patients and others who rely on accurate Medicare information, the transition should be relatively easy to manage because the MBIs will occupy the same spaces formerly reserved for HICNs within paperwork and health records.
New Medicare Card Mailing Schedule
CMS also plans to implement a transition period scheduled to last from April 1, 2018, until December 31, 2019. During this window, beneficiaries and providers can exchange Medicare data with CMS using HICNs or MBIs.
Once Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers become the official standard on January 1, 2020, caregivers and beneficiaries will only be permitted to use HICNs in a few limited situations.
For instance, either HICNs or MBIs will work in appeals for Medicare plans and fee-for-service claims.
HICNs are also set to remain valid indefinitely for processing systems like Risk Adjustment and Drug Data.
The Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration has been pushing for the removal of SSNs from Medicare cards for many years.
As 2015 data from the Department of Justice revealed, identity theft incidents impacted 2.6 million seniors in 2014 alone. Which was an increase of half a million from 2012 figures.
The new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers won’t change seniors Medicare eligibility. However, they will need to understand the difference in order to manage and access their benefits.
Since they won’t be able to use their old HICNs for many services, it’s best if they keep an eye out for official CMS mailings. It should contain their new Medicare cards.
All beneficiaries should get in the habit of using their Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers early.
Once your new Medicare card is received:
- Destroy your old Medicare card immediately
- Use your new card. Your doctors are ready to accept your new card when you need care.
- WATCH OUT FOR SCAMS! Beware of anyone contacting you about your new Medicare card and asking you for your Medicare Number, personal information, or to pay a fee for your new card. Treat your Medicare Number like you treat your Social Security or credit card numbers.
You’re new Medicare card with automatically be mailed to you, there’s nothing you need to do. You can find out more information about your new Medicare card here.
Mailing takes some time across the country. You might get your card at a different time than friends or neighbors in your state. In the meantime, keep using your current Medicare card until your new one arrives.
When You Should Expect Your New Medicare Card
We’ve got 3 ways for you to find out when you should expect your new Medicare card in the mail:
- Check out the map on Medicare.gov/NewCard. Keep coming back to check the status of card mailings in your state. Remember, once card mailings begin in your state, it’ll take about a month to finish.
- Keep an eye on your email. We’ll send you an email update when new Medicare cards start mailing in your state.
- Log in to your MyMedicare account to see if your new card has mailed. Don’t have an account yet? Sign up now— it’s a free, secure, and easy way to access all your Medicare information in one place.
Can I Laminate My Medicare Card
Since lamination may prevent security features from being detected, the Social Security Administration does not recommend laminating your Medicare card. However, it’s not illegal to do so.