CMS to Issue New Beneficiary Cards

As a means to safeguard the program and beneficiaries from fraud.


As a measure to prevent identify theft and fraud, Medicare will soon begin issuing new beneficiary cards.  These new cards will no longer feature the individual beneficiary’s Social Security Number.  In removing this personally identifiable information (PII), and cutting down on fraud, Medicare will also work to protect vital program funding and ensure that it benefits the intended recipients.  Such an undertaking will surely take time to complete, providing health care providers the time needed to ready themselves for such changes.


In order to remove Social Security Numbers which are used to create the unique Social Security Based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), Medicare will need to generate a new unique identifier for each individual enrolled.  As the replacement, the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) has been created.  This is a randomly generated and assigned number.  


New cards will be issued beginning in April of 2018 with the goal of replacing all existing Medicare Beneficiary cards by April of the following year. This transition is relatively fast considering how many beneficiaries it affects.  CMS is working on creating tools and resources with feedback from healthcare providers, program managers and other stakeholders.  Healthcare providers will have access to a new, secure tool, with which they will be able to look up and confirm new MBI’s at the point of service.  Additionally, there will be a 21 month grace period where healthcare providers will be able to provide service based on either the patient’s HICN or MBI.


Additionally CMS Will:

  1. Provide a free newsletter.
  2. Host Quarterly Calls to disseminate information.
  3. Provide posters with important information for your Medicare enrolled patients and your staff to prepare for the transition.


Steps You Can Take:

  1. Verify the addresses of your Medicare enrolled patients.  If the address they provide is different from the address they have provided for Medicare, have them contact Social Security to update their address.
  2. Test your current system to make sure it works with the new MBI format.
  3. Train Your billing staff to prepare for the changes.