New Medicare Cards: CMS Offers 5 Ways for Providers To Prepare
The Social Security numbers for 57.7 million Americans are about to get a little safer.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to fight against identity theft as well as to prevent illegal use of Medicare benefits.
Personal identity theft is a growing crime, especially for seniors age 65 and above. This type of crime increased among seniors almost 20%, from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014. Identity theft takes an emotional toll on its victims plus big financial hits and credit rating damage.
New Medicare Cards Will Display a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier
The new cards, which will be mailed to Medicare beneficiaries beginning in April, 2018 and ending in April, 2019, will have a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to replace the Social Security-based identification number. Each unique MBI will be composed of a combination of numbers and uppercase letters.
Medicare beneficiaries will be instructed to destroy their current Medicare cards and to keep their new MBI confidential.
Important note: Healthcare providers will have a 21-month transition period in which they can use either the new MBI numbers or the Social Security-based identification numbers for billing.
CMS Offers 5 Ways for Providers To Get Ready for the New Medicare Cards
Here are 5 tips from the CMS that will help providers be ready next April when Medicare patients present their new cards:
Sign up for the weekly CMS MLN Connects newsletter.
Attend quarterly conference calls for more information. The schedule will be published in the MLN Connects newsletter.
Verify the addresses of all your Medicare patients. If you find that your file address is different than that on the electronic eligibility transactions, ask the patient to update their address with Social Security.
Hang posters in your office to notify Medicare patients of the change. Watch for announcements of poster availability from CMS.
Test your systems and work with your billing office staff to ensure that your office is ready to use the new MBI format.
Visit the CMS Social Security Number Removal Initiative website for complete information on this change and how it will affect your practice.
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