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Jean Chen-Vitulli, DPM

Do you know what an MBI is and why it is important?

October 16, 2017

By April 2019 the Social Security Numbers on all Medicare cards will be removed as required by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015.

 

Personal identity theft affects a large

 

and growing number of seniors. People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of this type of crime. Incidents among seniors increased to 2.6 million from 2.1 million between 2012 and 2014, according to the most current statistics from the Department of Justice. Identity theft can take not only an emotional toll on those who experience it, but also a financial one: two-thirds of all identity theft victims reported a direct financial loss. It can also disrupt lives, damage credit ratings and result in inaccuracies in medical records and costly false claims. (Press release)

CMS has already started working on replacing the old Medicare cards in an attempt to combat fraud and identity theft. The new cards, used for transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status, will no longer contain Social Security numbers. They will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently used on the Medicare card.

Each person with Medicare will have their own exclusive MBI different from their spouses or dependents, who used to have a similar number. It will be 11-characters long and will be made up only of numbers and uppercase letters. Each MBI is distinctive and the characters do not have any secretive or special meaning. MBIs will fit on forms the same way HICNs do.  Get more information about the MBI.

CMS will begin mailing new cards in April 2018 and will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019. A considerable plan to help providers get ready for the MBI transition is under way. Medicare beneficiaries may start using their new Medicare cards and MBIs as soon as they get them.

There will be a transition period where you can use either the HICN or the MBI to communicate with CMS. The transition period will begin no earlier than April 1, 2018 and run through December 31, 2019. After this date, you'll need to use MBIs on your claims with a few exceptions when you can use either the HICN or MBI.

CMS is committed to a successful transition to the MBI for people with Medicare and for the health care provider community. They have a website set up, dedicated to the Social Security Removal Initiative (SSNRI) where providers can find the latest information and sign-up for newsletters.

For any questions about this or any practice revenue needs please do not hesitate to contact Vital Profits at (855) VITAL-1-1 or (855) 848-2511.

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