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3 tips for preparing EMS for new Medicare cards

New cards will protect patient data and will fight fraud and identity theft


By Greg Dill

Medicare is taking steps to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. Through this initiative, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will prevent fraud, fight identity theft, protect Medicare funds, and secure the private medical and financial information of our Medicare beneficiaries.

CMS will issue new Medicare cards with a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier to replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number, both on the cards and in various CMS systems in use now. CMS will start mailing new cards to people with Medicare in April 2018. All Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019.

Beginning in April 2018, Medicare patients will begin presenting with new cards in hand. (Courtesy photo)
Beginning in April 2018, Medicare patients will begin presenting with new cards in hand. (Courtesy photo)

CMS is committed to helping healthcare providers adapt to the new Medicare cards, to make this process as easy as possible for you, your patients and your staff. Based on feedback from providers, practice managers and other stakeholders, CMS is developing capabilities for doctors and other providers to look up the new MBI numbers through a secure tool from the point of service.

To make this change easier, there’s a 21-month transition period during which all providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN for billing purposes.

Therefore, even though your systems will need to be able to accept the new MBI format by April 2018, you can continue to bill and file healthcare claims using a patient’s HICN during the transition period. CMS encourages providers to work with their billing vendors to make sure their systems are updated to reflect these changes.

EMS Resources for Medicare changes

Beginning in April 2018, Medicare patients will begin presenting with new cards in hand. Get ready today:

  • Visit the provider website and sign up for the weekly MLN Connects newsletter.
  • Attend quarterly calls to get more information. The call schedule appears in the MLN Connects newsletter.
  • Test your system changes and work with your billing office staff to be sure you’re ready to use the new MBI format.

To learn more, visit: cms.gov/Medicare/SSNRI/Providers/Providers.html

About the author
Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Territories.

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