The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is preparing a fraud prevenion effort that will remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help safeguard against identity theft. In place of your Social Security number, cards will be issued unique, randomly assigned numbers called Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). CMS will begin mailing these new cards in April of 2018 and they expect to meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019.
CMS has also been diligently working to update its website to assist healthcare providers in preparing for the change. During a transitional period through 2019, providers can use the MBI's or Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICN numbers are the currently used Social Secuirty based claim number) on transactions such as billing or claims. "We're now figuring out the best way to mail the cards", the agency provides providers. We'll keep you posted about critical information so you can be ready to ask your Medicare patients at the time of service if they have a new card with an MBI.
Personal identity theft affects the growing number of seniors every year. People aged 65 and older are particularly vulnerable to these types of crimes. Identity theft not only hits it's victims with a financial toll, but it takes an emotional toll as well. Once a beneficiary has recieved their new card they will be instructed on how to safely destroy and dispose of their current Medicare cards, along with information on ways a beneficiary can work to keep their new MIB confidential.
CMS is planning a 'wide-scale' outreach to inform beneficiaries when to bring their new Medicare cards when they are getting care, and also how to get MBI's if they are to lose their card. Please note that issuance of the new MBI's will not change the benefits a Medicare beneficiary recieves.