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On Medicare? A New Card Is Coming Your Way!

| April 23, 2018

With the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards.

CMS currently uses an SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) to identify Medicare members and for administration of the Medicare program to minimize the chances of medical identity theft. SSNs will be replaced with a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). New Medicare cards displaying an MBI will be mailed out to members beginning in April. The mailings will be done in phases, by geographic location.

A Medicare recipient may start using the new card as soon as it is received. The issuance of a new card does not affect your Medicare benefits in any way. As with the old card, the effective date displayed is your eligibility date.

New cards may be used to enroll in a Medicare health (Medicare Advantage) or drug plan. Those with Medicare who choose to enroll in a Medicare health (Medicare Advantage) or drug plan will continue to receive an insurance card from their health and/or drug plans.

A planned transition period will run from April 1st of 2018 until December 31st of 2019. Medicare recipients may use either the HCIN or the MBI until they become familiar with the new process and until the transition period ends.

CMS is taking a fairly lenient approach with respect to how well the change will be accepted by people with Medicare. Beginning January 1st of 2020, Medicare recipients must submit claims using only MBIs, “with a few exceptions.” CMS states they will monitor the use of both HICNs and MBIs during the adjustment period to determine how well the change is being adopted. Close monitoring of the use of both identifiers will furnish helpful data. If necessary, CMS will make additional efforts by CMS to facilitate and ensure widespread adoption by 2020.

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