Medicare ID Card Changes: 3 Steps to Help You Prepare

April 23, 2018

By: Crystal Ewing

When it comes to identity theft, each year’s numbers are higher than the last—and in 2017, the United States’ record-high number of victims was 16.7 million. Patients’ growing concerns about personal identity theft are well founded, and there has never been a better time for organizations to improve security and protect personal data.

One positive change on the horizon: to reduce the risk of beneficiary medical identity theft, social security numbers will no longer be used for health insurance claim numbers (HICNs).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has already begun mailing out new Medicare cards that include a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). This big change will impact your practice, your patients and many other stakeholders along the care continuum.


While there is a 21-month transition period from April 1, 2018, to December 31, 2019, the phased roll-out of new cards begins this month. However, until the transition period ends, you’ll need to accept either number.


3 Ways to Prepare for the Transition

In the meantime, you can take proactive steps to help prepare, maximize revenue and optimize operational results.

  1. Make sure your systems are ready. Work with your billing system vendors, clearinghouses and third-party billing services to ensure you can process both the old HICN and the new MBI starting this month.
  2. Reduce your staff’s stress by educating them on new processes and confirming they know the three ways to gather a patient’s new MBI:
  3. From the patient at the time of service
  4. Through remittance advice
  5. Through a secure Medicare web portal
  6. Facilitate better, more transparent patient conversations.
    1. Access available resources to help you answer questions from patients about the transition.
    2. Ask patients to make sure their mailing address is up to date with CMS so they can receive their new card in the mail.
    3. Let patients know they should begin using the new card as soon as they receive it.

These steps will help your organization be prepared for the transition—and help you avoid the stress and hassle of disruption in claim filings and reimbursements.

Listen to our on-demand webinar for more detailed information about the new cards and their phased roll-out. This deeper dive can help ensure you’re ready for these identification card changes.

Stay Informed