Perspective

CMS offers tips on accepting new Medicare cards in practices in 2018

In April 2018, every Medicare beneficiary will receive a new Medicare card that eliminates the need for Social Security numbers, which will help to combat fraud and identity theft and protect taxpayer dollars, according to The CMS Blog.

“It’s unfortunate that criminals are increasingly targeting people aged 65 or older for medical identity theft, including when someone illegally uses another person’s Medicare number,” Seema Verma, administrator of CMS, wrote in the blog. “An identity thief may bill Medicare for expensive services that were never provided or overbill for provided services. This can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which can mean delayed care or denied services for patients and impacts taxpayer funding.”

The new cards will have a unique, randomly assigned Medicare number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) consisting of a combination of numbers and uppercase letters totaling 11 characters, according to Verma. The new number will replace the currently used Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), eliminating any ties to personal identifying information, she wrote.

The new Medicare cards will start being issued in April 2018 and all cards will be replaced by April 2019, she wrote. – by Alaina Tedesco

Disclosure: Healio Internal Medicine was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.

In April 2018, every Medicare beneficiary will receive a new Medicare card that eliminates the need for Social Security numbers, which will help to combat fraud and identity theft and protect taxpayer dollars, according to The CMS Blog.

“It’s unfortunate that criminals are increasingly targeting people aged 65 or older for medical identity theft, including when someone illegally uses another person’s Medicare number,” Seema Verma, administrator of CMS, wrote in the blog. “An identity thief may bill Medicare for expensive services that were never provided or overbill for provided services. This can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which can mean delayed care or denied services for patients and impacts taxpayer funding.”

The new cards will have a unique, randomly assigned Medicare number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) consisting of a combination of numbers and uppercase letters totaling 11 characters, according to Verma. The new number will replace the currently used Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), eliminating any ties to personal identifying information, she wrote.

The new Medicare cards will start being issued in April 2018 and all cards will be replaced by April 2019, she wrote. – by Alaina Tedesco

Disclosure: Healio Internal Medicine was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.

    Perspective
    Eugene Freund

    Eugene Freund

    Beginning in April 2018, Medicare patients will start coming to your office with new cards in hand. Medicare is taking steps to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to prevent fraud, fight identity theft and protect essential program funding along with the private health care and financial information of our beneficiaries. At this time, we’re asking you to help us by making sure your systems are ready to begin using the new numbers in April 2018.

    We are working to make this process as easy as possible for you, your patients and your staff. For example, based on customer feedback, doctors and other health care providers will be able look up the new MBI using their Medicare Administrative Contractor’s (MAC’s) secure portal.

    During a 21-month transition period, all health care providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN for billing purposes. So, even though your systems need to be able to accept the new MBI format by April 2018, you can continue to bill and file health care claims using a patient’s HICN during the transition period. To prepare, please take these three important steps:

    1. Verify all of your Medicare patients’ addresses. If the addresses you have on file are different than the Medicare address you get on electronic eligibility transactions, ask your patients to contact the Social Security Administration and update their records.
    2. Test your system changes and work with your billing office staff to be sure your office is ready to use the new MBI format.
    3. Make sure you can access your MAC’s secure portal.

    We are continuing to develop products, such as a printer friendly fact sheet,  a tear-off sheet in English or Spanish, posters and other aids to help explain the steps patients and providers can take to prepare. Please keep an eye on https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/Providers/Providers.html to find these resources, other tools, and updates. At the same website, you may also order hard copy products and sign up for the Medicare Learning Network (MLN) Connects newsletter and learn about our quarterly calls.

    For more information:

    Freund can be reached via email at: NMCProviderQuestions@cms.hhs.gov.

    • Eugene Freund, MD, MSPH, CAPT USPHS
    • Provider Ombudsman for the new Medicare card Medical Officer, CMS

    Disclosures: Freund reports no relevant financial disclosures.