CMS Issues Guidance on New Medicare Cards

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The new Medicare cards are rolling out across the U.S.! Medicare beneficiaries in your area will receive them based on this geographic distribution schedule.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) explains that the new cards have a randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) instead of the old identification number that was based on a beneficiary’s Social Security number. The “dashes” on the cards are only for appearance and should not be included when using the MBI. At the same time, the Railroad Retirement Board is mailing new Medicare cards with the same MBI format.

Important Facts About the New Medicare Beneficiary Identifier

For physicians, providers and suppliers submitting claims to Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) including Durable Medical Equipment MACS and Home Health and Hospice MACs:

  • Use the MBI the same way that you use the prior Medicare identification numbers. 
  • Use the MBI on Medicare transactions including billing, eligibility status and claim status.
  • The effective date of the MBI is the date each beneficiary was eligible for Medicare.
  • You may use either the MBI or the prior identification number in the same field where you always used the prior number. But after December 31, 2019, you must use the MBI and claims will be rejected without it.

Where Providers Can Obtain the New Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers

There are 3 ways to get MBIs for your patients:

  • Ask your patient when they come in for care. They can call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) if they haven’t received a new card when expected.
  • Use the MAC’s secure look-up tool. Sign up to use the portal for this tool by state which will be available even after December 31, 2019.
  • Check the remittance advice. Beginning this October, Medicare will include the MBI on every remittance advice when claims are submitted with valid insurance claim numbers.

You can read more specifics on how to get the new MBIs and how to use them at this CMS MLN Matters® bulletin.

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