1/1 HIC Numbers Invalid in 2020

As of today, HICNs are still being used to identify patients on 14% of Medicare claims.  Starting in four weeks, these claims will be returned, as MBIs are required after December 31, 2019.  Find all the information you need on the conversion to MBIs at https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/downloads/SE18006.pdf.

12/31 Old HICNs Valid for Only Six More Months

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.

New Medicare Cards Delivered

When you get your new Medicare card, destroy your old red-white-and-blue Medicare card, but do not destroy your Social Security card, Medicare Advantage plan card, or drug plan cards.  If you belong to a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare drug plan (Part D), continue to use these cards when you get health care services or fill a prescription.  Dispose of your old Medicare card carefully, as it contains Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that can be used for identity theft.  Your dialysis facility will probably have a shredder if you don’t.  New Medicare Cards, and your Medicare Beneficiary Identifier on it, are also confidential PII that should be closely guarded.

New Medicare cards have been mailed to all Network 16 and 18 patients.  If you haven’t received yours, call 1-800-MEDICARE.  Call center representatives can check the status and help you get your new card.  Meanwhile, use your current Medicare card to get health care services.  While your old card will be good through the end of 2019, you want to get and use your new card as soon as you can.

NMC Mailings to WA, ID, MT

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 News

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:

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.

Additional resources:

New Medicare Card News

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.

NMC Mailings to CA, OR, AK

CMS has begun mailing New Medicare Cards to California, Oregon, and Alaska, and to all new Medicare patients, and all new Railroad Retirement Board cards are due to be mailed today, June 1, 2018.  The new MBIs can be used as soon as they are received.  HICNs can be used until December 31, 2019, but everyone is encouraged to use MBIs as soon as they are available.

Patients may not have shredders at home, so to reduce identity theft, facilities are encouraged to help patients dispose of their old Medicare cards carefully as PII or Personally Identifiable Information.  New Medicare Cards and MBIs are also confidential PII.

A new MLN Matters document, New Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI): Get It, Use It has been published to help acquaint facilities with the MBI.  It can be found at https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/downloads/SE18006.pdf.  For more information, see https://www.medicare.gov/NewCard/.

Fraud Prevention Resources

CMS has published information about helping patients avoid fraud and scams, which may be particularly important with the release of the New Medicare Cards.

Medicare will never call beneficiaries uninvited and ask for personal or private information to get their new Medicare Number and card.  Scam artists may try to get personal information (like their current Medicare Number) by contacting them about their new card.  If your Medicare patient is asked for their information, for money, or someone threatens to cancel their health benefits if they don’t share their personal information, have them call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

The new Medicare Number is also called the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) and is replacing the current Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on Medicare health insurance cards.  Medicare will continue to accept the HICN through the transition period; see https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/index.html#target.  Identity theft resources for people with Medicare can be found at https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-and-resources/identity-theft/identity-theft.html.