Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers to Replace SSN Claim Numbers in 2018

In an effort to fight medical identity theft for people with Medicare, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. Beginning in April 2018, CMS will start mailing Medicare cards with new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs) to all Medicare recipients. The new MBIs will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Numbers for transactions like billing, eligibility status and claim status after a transition period.

Follow these steps to ensure your systems are ready:

  • Visit CMS's Social Security Number Removal Initiative home and provider webpages for the latest details about the transition.
  • Verify your patients' addresses. Patients will not get a new card if their address is not correct. If the address you have on file is different than the Medicare address you get in electronic eligibility transaction responses, ask your patients to correct their address in Medicare's records through Social Security. This may require coordination between your billing and office staff.
  • Get ready to use the new MBI format. Ask your billing and office staff if your system will be ready to accept the 11-digit alpha numeric MBI. If you use vendors to bill Medicare, ask them about their MBI practice management system changes and make sure they are ready for the change. Make and internally test changes to your practice management systems and business processes by April 2018, before the new Medicare cards are distributed.

If you are a vendor who partners with Medicare providers to bill Medicare, communicate with them about your system readiness and what they should expect to see from you beginning April 2018. Subscribe to the Medicare Learning Network Connects newsletter for more information.

Keywords: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (U.S.), Eligibility Determination, Insurance, Health, Medicaid, Medical Identity Theft, Medicare, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, Social Security

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