As you may already know, next month Medicare will begin the process of issuing new Medicare cards with new Medicare numbers. The Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICN) that are currently on Medicare cards are based on a patient’s Social Security Number. A law has been put in place that requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to remove Social Security Numbers from all Medicare cards. The HICN will be replaced by a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) that consists of a randomly generated combination of 11 letters and numbers, unique to each patient. This change is being implemented in efforts to help protect Medicare patients from fraudulent use of their Social Security numbers.

The cards with the new MBI will be in geographical waves to current Medicare patients beginning April 1, 2018, with all cards being replaced by April 2019. To find out which wave your state will be included in, click here to view the mailing schedule provided by CMS. It is important to know that patients new to Medicare beginning on April 1, 2018 and later will only be receiving a Medicare card with the new MBI.

Important dates to remember:

April 2018:

  • New Medicare patients will automatically receive the new MBI
  • New Medicare cards with the MBI in place of the HICN will begin being mailed out to current Medicare patients

April 2018 - December 31, 2019:

  • Transition period: during this transition period, you will be able to use either the HICN or the MBI to exchange data and information with CMS. Please remember that your systems still need to be ready to accept the MBI by April 1, 2018 since patients new to Medicare from that point forward will only receive that number.

 June 2018:

  • You can begin using your MAC’s secure portal to look up a patient’s MBI using their first name, last name, date of birth, and Social Security Number

 October 2018 – Decmeber 31, 2019:

  • When you submit a claim using your Medicare patient’s valid and active HICN, Medicare will return both the HICN and the MBI on every remittance advice.

 January 1, 2020:

  • MBI must be used for all transactions.

 For more in-depth, detailed information regarding the MBI change, you can read the full fact sheet released by CMS here.