3 Smart Ways to Prep for New Medicare Cards

Medicare card with MBI

To comply with MACRA, CMS is removing social security numbers from Medicare cards. The goal is to help prevent identity theft. Here are three ways you can prepare for this big change.

1. Familiarize Yourself With the New Look

The look of the new cards won’t be a drastic change from the old ones. They’re still red, white, and blue. They have the beneficiary’s name, the type of Medicare the patient is entitled to, like Part B, and coverage dates. The cards will be smaller, the size of a credit card. And they won’t have the patient’s gender or a signature line.

But the main change, of course, is that for the identification number you’ll see a unique Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) instead of a social security number (SSN). The number is randomly generated. There are 11 characters, and positions two, five, eight, and nine are always alphabetic. An example CMS has used in their information campaign is 1EG4-TE5-MK72. The CMS overview of the change states that the MBI should be protected as personally identifiable information.

2. Be Sure Your Staff and Systems Are Ready

Medicare will start mailing the new cards out in April 2018. That means your staff and systems must be ready for the new codes by that date. The plan is for all existing cards to be replaced by April 2019. Beneficiaries should start using their new cards as soon as they get them, but CMS indicates that either the old or the new card may be used through December 2019. On Jan. 1, 2020, the new card is the only one Medicare will allow beneficiaries to use.

Medicare isn’t offering end-to-end testing because you’ll have the transition period until Dec. 31, 2019, to be sure you’ve worked out any issues from the change.

Tip: CMS wants to see the MBI on Jan. 1, 2020, even if the date of service was on a prior date, according to a post on the overview site. There are some exceptions, like appeals, adjustments, and span-date claims.

3. Inform Patients to Be on the Lookout for Cards (and Scams)

The CMS site has a “Partners & employers” page with resources you can use to inform your patients about the changes that are coming. You’ll find an overview for you, a flyer, a social media toolkit (the source of the image at the top of this post), and even a captioned video file you can use in your waiting room.

One thing the video mentions is that Medicare won’t be in touch to ask for personal information or to ask for payment for the card. This is helpful information for beneficiaries to know to protect them from scams during this period of change.

How About You?

Have you prepared for the change? Do patients seem to like the idea or have you heard complaints?






Deborah works on a wide range of TCI SuperCoder projects, researching and writing about coding, as well as assisting with data updates and tool development for our online coding solutions. Since joining TCI in 2004, she’s covered the ins and outs of coding for radiology, cardiology, oncology and hematology, orthopedics, audiology, and more.

, , ,

Leave a Reply