Are your patients aware that their Medicare cards will be replaced with a new version beginning in April 2018?
In a multi-year effort aimed at enhancing fraud protection for seniors, CMS is removing Social Security numbers from beneficiary cards and replacing them with new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs)(www.cms.gov) that consist of a series of random numbers and uppercase letters.
By Dec. 31, 2019, all physicians and health care professionals must have completed the transition from the old cards to the new ones and use only MBIs for all billing and other Medicare transactions.
CMS is helping physicians help their patients by providing messaging guidelines, and various ready-to-print resources(www.cms.gov) in both English and Spanish including a flyer, a poster and an informational sheet that gives beneficiaries a preview of the new card and explains the staggered mailing of cards that is expected to be complete by April 2019
As noted recently in the Family Practice Management (FPM) Getting Paid blog, CMS has taken the extra step of appointing an ombudsman, Eugene Freund, M.D., to get answers to queries from physicians, hospitals, suppliers and others about implementation difficulties. Email questions and concerns to the ombudsman's office.
Another Getting Paid blog post from June walks physicians through steps they need to take to prepare their billing systems to accept the new MBI format.
For instance, FPM urges family physicians to
- work with their billing vendors to confirm that practice systems will be ready by April 2019,
- check the addresses of Medicare patients on file with the practice against the addresses that appear on electronic eligibility transactions,
- ask patients to contact the Social Security office to update their Medicare records if the addresses don't match, and
- collaborate with office personnel to test system changes before the first influx of patients with MBIs hit the front office.
Beneficiaries can begin using their new cards as soon as they receive them, so physicians likely will start seeing the new cards in April 2018.
Related AAFP News Coverage
AAFP Pleased With CMS Progress on Medicare ID Card Initiative
Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers to Replace Social Security Numbers
CMS Provider Information: New Medicare cards(www.cms.gov)