There are only six months to go on the transition to the New Medicare Card. To help prevent identity theft, the New Card removes a patient’s Social Security Number from their Card and replaces it with a new, randomly-assigned “Medicare Beneficiary Identifier” or MBI. MBIs must be protected as confidential PII. All patients should have received their new card by now, barring mailing address problems. After December 31, 2019 billing with the old “Health Insurance Claim Number” or HICN will be disallowed. If your facility has patients that don’t have a New Card, refer to https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/Downloads/SE18006.pdf for instructions. Railroad Retirement Board Medicare cards are going through a parallel transition.
CMS has reported that more then two thirds of Medicare claims now use the MBI instead of the HIC number. All claims must use the MBI by the end of 2019. Medicare has published two handy references to help:
- New MBI: Get It, Use It, including three ways to obtain an MBI – https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNmattersArticles/downloads/SE18006.pdf.
- Understanding the MBI, a one-page chart for your wall or desktop clarifying how the MBI is coded – https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNProducts/Downloads/UnderstandingTheMBI-MLN3657604.pdf.
CMS has begun mailing New Medicare Cards to beneficiaries in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Mailings are already complete to California, Oregon, and Alaska. For more information see:
New Medicare Card (NMC) mailings to Alaska, California, and Oregon have been completed. Anyone in those states who did not get a new card, should print a Still Waiting for Your New Card? handout from:
- English – https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/Outreach-and-Education/Tear-Off-for-After-Card-Mailing-Ends.pdf.
- Spanish – https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/Outreach-and-Education/Tear-Off-for-After-Card-Mailing-Ends-Spanish.pdf.
And then either:
- Sign into https://www.mymedicare.gov/ to see if their card has been mailed. If so, they can print an official card. If they do not already have an account, they need to create one.
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). There might be something that needs to be corrected, such as updating their mailing address.
Mailings to Idaho, Montana, and Washington will not begin till August at the earliest, and probably considerably later. CMS is committed to mailing new cards to everyone with Medicare by April 2019. Until December 31, 2019 health care providers and suppliers can use either the former SSN-based HIC Number, OR the alpha-numeric MBI (Medicare Beneficiary Identifier) on the new cards, for all Medicare transactions.
- NMC Mailing Strategy: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/NMC-Mailing-Strategy.pdf.
- Mailing Status: https://www.medicare.gov/NewCard/.
- NMC information website: https://www.cms.gov/medicare/new-medicare-card/nmc-home.html.
- NMC backstory: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNProducts/Downloads/TransitiontoNewMedicareNumbersandCards-909365.pdf.
- MLN Matters document on MBI: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/Downloads/SE18006.pdf.
The CMS MLN Matters document on New Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI): Get It, Use It has recently been revised, but the only change is the addition of the information (on page 2) that the MBI does not use the letters S, L, O, I, B, or Z in order to avoid confusion with similarly-shaped numbers.
The CMS New Medicare Card (NMC) web page at https://www.medicare.gov/newcard/ keeps an ongoing tally of NMC mailings. It shows that mailings are now underway for California, Oregon, and Alaska, but have not yet started for other Network 16 states. The page also includes a sample of the new card, important information about what a patient should do when they receive one in the mail, and important tips on avoiding Medicare scams.
For providers, CMS has also published information on when a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI, which replaces the HICN on the card) can change, and what to do when it does. Find a summary at https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/FFSProvPartProg/Provider-Partnership-Email-Archive-Items/2018-07-05-eNews.html?DLPage=1&DLEntries=10&DLSort=0&DLSortDir=descending#_Toc518370286.
CMS hasn’t mailed the New Medicare Cards to the west coast yet, but you may encounter patients transferring or visiting from areas that already have their new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers or MBIs. You may also have Railroad Retirement Board patients, whose cards have been mailed. There’s a sample of RRB cards at https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2017-10/New%20Medicare%20Card%20Sample_0.pdf.
CMS’s top priorities in moving to new Medicare cards and numbers are to make sure that Medicare patients have continuous access to care, and that providers have the tools and information needed to make the change. To look up a Medicare patient’s new Medicare number, see https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/Providers/New-Medicare-Card-Provider-Letter.pdf.