By: Nancy Conant, Clinical Consultant
Are you aware the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 mandates the removal of the SSN-based HICN from Medicare cards? This is a huge undertaking as CMS has identified approximately 90 different stakeholder entities that receive, store, use, or provide the HICN today. The reason for this Act is to address the threat of beneficiary medical identity theft for people on Medicare. In April 2018, Medicare will begin to mail new Medicare cards with the MBI # randomly by geographic regions. CMS processes and systems are being updated to accept and return MBIs by April 2018. A transition period is expected to run April 2018 through April 2019 where either/both the HICN or MBI can be submitted to Medicare.
Stakeholders, in turn, are expected to adjust their systems to submit or exchange MBIs starting April 1, 2018. This means all stakeholder systems must be ready to process the MBI cards as of April 2018. By now, system revisions in your offices/facilities have been considered and you have a timeline in place to implement the changes into your business practices and processes.
Medicare is committed to assist you to get ready for the new cards and MBIs. Outreach and training is available to help you to be ready by April 2018:
- Go to Medicare’s website and sign-up for the weekly MLN Connects® newsletter.
- Attend Medicare’s quarterly calls to get more information. Medicare will let you know when calls are scheduled in the MLN Connects newsletter.
- Verify all of your Medicare patients’ addresses. Make sure the addresses you have on file are not different than the Medicare address you use on electronic eligibility transactions. If different, ask your patients to contact Social Security and update their Medicare records.
- Work with Medicare to help your Medicare patients adjust to their new Medicare cards. This fall Medicare will have helpful information about the new Medicare cards you can display in your facilities. Hang posters in your offices about the Medicare card changes to help spread the word.
- Most importantly, test the system changes and work with the billing office staff to be sure the office/facility is ready to use the new MBI format.
As of January 2020, HICNs will no longer be used as beneficiary identifiers. Beneficiaries who receive their new MBI cards are encouraged to start using them immediately, people new to Medicare will be assigned a MBI card during the transition period.