New Medicare Cards Arriving in 2018…Here’s How Physicians and Practices Can Prepare

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be removing Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. The change is part of an effort to protect Medicare beneficiaries from medical identify theft.

CMS-Medicare-Card-2017-200pxCMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards April 2018, with the expectation that all new cards will be issued no later than April 2019. The nine-digit number Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) that is currently listed on beneficiary cards will be replaced with a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) that is 11 characters in length and made up of numbers and uppercase letters.

In January 2018, CMS announced its Medicare card mailing strategy. Pennsylvania is included in the first wave of mailings scheduled for April 2018-June 2018. 

Now is the time to prepare for the transition to new Medicare cards
. Your systems should be ready to accept the new numbers by April 2018, especially because beneficiaries who are new to Medicare in April 2018 and after will only get a card with the MBI.

Here are several things to keep in mind as you prepare:
  • Patient AddressesOffices should be verifying correct patient addresses now to ensure delivery of the new card starting next year. If the addresses you have on file are different than the Medicare address you get on electronic eligibility transactions, ask your patients to contact Social Security and update their Medicare records. You can let patients know they can update address information by:
  • Transition Period—There will be a transition period from April 1, 2018, until Dec. 31, 2019, during which both the HICN or MBI numbers will be accepted. Once the transition period ends, you must use the MBI, with these exceptions:
  • Provider Portal Lookup Tool—Starting in June 2018, you can look up your patients' new Medicare numbers through your Medicare Administrative Contractor's (MAC) secure web portal if your patient is unable to provide his/her card. The portal will require patient first and last name, date of birth, and SSN.
  • Electronic Health Record System Updates and Testing—Practices should find out whether they need to make updates to their EHR systems. Consider the following:
  • Spouse's Medicare Cards—The Medicare cards of spouses will no longer look similar, as they have in the past.
  • Beneficiary Identifier on Remittance Advice—Beginning October 2018 through the end of the transition period, when a valid and active HICN is submitted on Medicare FFS claims, both the HICN and the MBI will be returned on the remittance advice.

Additional Resources
CMS offers a wide variety of resources that can help practices and patients navigate the transition to new Medicare cards, including:

Pennsylvania Medical Society members with questions can also contact our Knowledge Center at 855-PAMED4U (855-726-3348) or  

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