Due to a legislative mandate in MACRA passed in 2015, Medicare will no longer use social security numbers to identify individuals. Instead, a new randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will be assigned to all 58 million Medicare recipients. New Medicare ID cards containing the MBI are currently being sent to recipients.
“It is a big change,” said Phillip Allen, billing service manager with MediSYS. “MACRA requires that social security numbers be removed to protect beneficiaries from social security number theft, identity theft, and illegal use of benefits.” Which is why the gender and signature line will not be printed on the new Medicare cards either.
The MBI replaces the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) used for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status. Whereas the HICN started with the 10-digit social security number and ended with a letter or two designating a policy type, the 11-digit MBI will contain both letters and numbers throughout.
The transition to these new cards is a big step for patients as well as providers. “All providers, vendors, and other stakeholders must be ready to accept, receive, and transmit the new MBI … particularly for the new beneficiaries coming into the program,” said Monica Kay, acting director of the CMS division of program management.
Here are nine steps your practice should take to ease the transition and avoid payment delays:
- Educate practice staff about the rollout of the new Medicare cards with the new MBIs.
- Contact practice-management system vendors about what system changes need to be made to accommodate the MBIs.
- Alert your Medicare patients that they will be receiving new Medicare cards with their new MBIs.
- Remind Medicare patients to confirm that the Social Security Administration has their correct address on file to ensure that they receive their new Medicare cards.
- Tell Medicare patients to bring their new Medicare cards to their next appointment after they receive it.
- Begin using the new MBI in Medicare transactions as soon as it is available for the patient.
- Monitor eligibility responses for messages that indicate the patient was mailed a new Medicare card.
- Starting Oct. 1, 2018, monitor remittance advices for messages that provide the patient’s MBI.
- Sign up for the MBI look-up tool via your regional MAC portal.