As I announced in June, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to issue new Medicare identification cards that no longer carry Social Security numbers as a way to prevent fraud and fight identity theft. Last week, CMS unveiled the new cards.
The new card features a unique, randomly-assigned Medicare ID number, actually a combination of eleven numbers and uppercase letters. CMS will begin mailing the new cards to beneficiaries in April 2018 and plans to replace all cards by April 2019. Beneficiaries may use their new cards as soon as they receive them, so you should be prepared to see them in your practice as early as next April.
Like your Medicare patients, you can use the new ID numbers for billing purposes as soon as they start showing up in your practice. CMS plans to have a transition period during which you can use either the old or the new ID number to exchange data with Medicare. The transition period will begin no earlier than April 1, 2018, and run through December 31, 2019. Beginning on January 1, 2020, you'll need to use the new ID numbers on your claims with a few exceptions. For more information, see the new Medicare cards provider page on the CMS web site.
CMS is encouraging physicians to remind their patients to bring their new Medicare cards to their appointments. If you need help talking with your Medicare patients about this change, CMS has also provided messaging guidelines and talking points on the subject.
– Kent Moore, Senior Strategist for Physician Payment for the American Academy of Family Physicians
Sign up to receive FPM's free, weekly e-newsletter, "Quick Tips & Insights," featuring practical, peer-reviewed advice for improving practice, enhancing the patient experience, and developing a rewarding career.