On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, CMS kicked-off a multi-faceted outreach campaign to help providers get ready for new Medicare cards. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is preparing a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help fight identity theft, and safeguards taxpayer dollars. So, how will this work? The new cards will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) that is currently used on the Medicare card. New cards will begin hitting the mail in April of 2018 and will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019.
CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, said: “We’re taking this step to protect our seniors from fraudulent use of Social Security numbers which can lead to identity theft and illegal use of Medicare benefits”. She also stated, “We want to be sure that Medicare beneficiaries and healthcare providers know about these changes well in advance and have the information they need to make a seamless transition.”
To make this transition smooth, providers and beneficiaries will both be able to use secure look up tools that will support quick access to MBIs when they need them. A 21-month transition period where providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN will further ease the transition. Beneficiaries will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare cards and keep the new MBI confidential. Issuance of the new MBI will not change the benefits a Medicare beneficiary receives.