CMS has announced a change in Medicare ID cards that will begin to take effect in April 2018. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 requires CMS to remove Social Security Numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions, such as, billing eligibility status and claim status. The MBI will be confidential and should be protected as Personally Identifiable Information. The biggest reason CMS is implementing this change is to fight medical identity theft for people with Medicare. It will better protect private health care and financial information as well as federal health care benefit and service payments.
What to expect?
Beginning in April 2018, CMS will start mailing the new Medicare cards with the MBI to all people with Medicare in phases by geographic location and will slowly continue to migrate until 2019.
The MBI will be clearly different than the HICN. It will contain 11 characters in length made up of only numbers and uppercase letters (no special characters). Each MBI will be unique and randomly generated. They will have no hidden or special meaning. The MBI will not change Medicare benefits. Recipients with Medicare may start using their new Medicare cards and MBIs as soon as they receive them.