CMS Transition of Patient Identifiers from HICN to MBI

CMS to end use of Social Security numbers on Medicare cards

As a component of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. The goals are to reduce the risk of identity theft for beneficiaries and the number of fraudulent claims made to Medicare.

The New Medicare Card project (formerly known as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative) requires eligibility and claims processing software, electronic health records, and payer systems to use randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs.) Medicare cards have been transitioning to MBIs over a one-year period that began April 1, 2018. By December 31st, 2019 all HICNs will be also be changed to MBIs.

Scroll down to view the project scope and timeline, additional resources and frequently asked questions.

New Medicare Card Timeline

April 2018

CMS is mailing new cards to beneficiaries

Providers billing Medicare should expect to start seeing and accepting new Medicare cards

Providers should be verifying patient addresses during visits

Providers may use either the HICN or MBI numbers for processing, but are encouraged to update their patient records and start routinely using the MBI as soon as possible

CMS will update HETS eligibility transactions submitted with HCIN to indicate when a beneficiary has been issued a new Medicare card

A look-up tool is available for providers to check patient MBIs (see link to Help for Provider Organizations below)

Oct. 2018

MBI to begin appearing on remittance advisories

April 1, 2019

All cards have been mailed to beneficiaries to meet statutory deadline of April 16

Dec. 31, 2019

Last date a HICN will be accepted by CMS, with certain exceptions

Jan. 1, 2020

Providers, payers and beneficiaries are now compliant with the Congressional mandate to accept MBIs only by this date

HICN is no longer exchanged, with limited exceptions

New Medicare Card Project Scope

The scope includes:

1. Generation of MBIs for all new, current, archived and deceased beneficiaries

2. Issuance of redesigned Medicare cards with the MBI to current and new beneficiaries

3. Modification of systems and business processes to accommodate the receipt, transmission, display and processing of the MBI

4. Translation of the HICN to MBI for relevant partners and stakeholders

ABILITY Support to Customers and Partners

As the leading connectivity channel for Medicare, ABILITY performed an assessment of its applications and systems in preparation for this effort. ABILITY applications are compliant with the new requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does New Medicare Card project apply to both traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage?

Yes. Beneficiaries in both types of plans will be assigned MBIs, however Medicare Advantage and prescription drug beneficiaries may still have health plan member IDs assigned and visible on their cards.

Is it true that archived and deceased beneficiaries will also be assigned MBIs?

Yes, more than 90 million deceased beneficiaries will receive new numbers. This will not impact providers and payers.

How will this affect Medicare beneficiaries?

The MBI won’t change Medicare eligibility or benefits. Medicare beneficiaries should begin using their new Medicare cards and the MBI as soon as they receive them.