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.
When you register for Medicare, you’ll receive your white, red, and blue card in the mail.
If you’re already receiving your retirement benefits, or receiving Railroad Retirement Board benefits, or are a recipient of social security benefits, you’ll automatically receive your card three months before turning 65.
If you’ get Medicare through disability, you’ll receive automatic enrollment after 24 months of getting the disability. You’ll receive your ID card in the mail on the 25th month after receiving your first social security check.
It also indicates the date your coverage starts. When traveling away from home, be sure to carry your ID card. Your doctor, healthcare provider, or hospital will want to see your card whenever you need medical services.
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 beneficiaries and individuals who have been compromised by identity theft.
It also plans on creating Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers for archived 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 individual letters that might be confusable with numbers.
For caregivers, patients, and others who rely on accurate 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 is implementing a transition period from April 1, 2018, until December 31, 2019. During this window, beneficiaries and providers can exchange 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 plans and fee-for-service claims.
HICNs will remain valid indefinitely for processing systems like Risk Adjustment and Drug Data.
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. That’s an increase of half a million from 2012 figures.
The new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers won’t change seniors’ eligibility. However, they will need to understand the difference in managing and accessing 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 new 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 number like you treat your Social Security or credit card numbers.
Your new card will automatically come in the mail; there’s nothing you need to do.
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 card until your new one arrives.
When You Should Expect Your New Medicare Card?
We’ve got three 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 area, it’ll take about a month to finish.
- Keep an eye on your email. We’ll send you an email update when new 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 information in one place.
How Do I Get a Medicare Replacement Card?
If you end up losing your card or the card gets damaged, and you need a replacement card, you can easily print a new one straight from your online Social Security account!
How to Change the Address on your Medicare Card?
Medicare uses the names and addresses from registering to Social Security. To change your address, log into your social security account, and edit it online.
Your ID card is the most critical form of identification you should carry at all times. You must present your card to receive any services covered by Medicare.
Using your Medicare Card
Whenever you visit your doctor or a healthcare facility for the first time, you need to carry your card. However, once you’ve become a regular client, the facility may make a copy and keep in their records.
Here are some essential factors to consider when handling your Medicare card:
- Some doctors, pharmacies, labs, or other healthcare facilities may insist on you carrying your card every time you visit the facility. However, if they can accept copies, consider keeping the original at home.
- If you happen to lose your card and get a replacement, make sure you submit a copy of the new card to your doctor for records.
- Never share your ID number or the card itself with anybody apart from your doctor or your healthcare provider.
- Always have your card at hand whenever you make a call to Medicare for queries.
- If you suspect that someone has used your card, contact the Federal Trade Commission for ID theft or your local authorities.
Options for Applying for Medicare
Here are the three options you can use to apply for your Part A or Part B:
- Apply online through the website of Social Security.
- Enroll by calling the Social Security toll-free telephone numbers.
- Sign up physically visiting your local Social Security office.
Do I Get a Medicare Card for Part C or Part D?
Since private insurance firms offer Part C and Part D, you’ll be issued a separate card from the insurance company. It’s different from the white, red, and blue ID card. It will mainly contain the name of the insurance provider and plan type.
In case your Medicare Advantage coverage contains Part D, you’ll need just one card for all your prescription drugs and medical needs.
Do I Get a Card for my Medicare Supplement Plan?
No, your Medicare card will be all you need. Medicare knows when you have a supplemental Medigap plan, and will be the carrier accordingly.
Can I Laminate My Medicare Card?
Since lamination may prevent security feature detections, the Social Security Administration does not recommend laminating your Medicare card. However, it’s not illegal to do so.