Beginning in April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will send out new beneficiary cards to your patients. These new cards, which will be distributed in phases based on geographic location, will still have red and blue printing on a white background, but the graphics will be slightly different. Most important, the beneficiary ID number will be different.
We’ve written before about the importance of preparing your staff and your practice for the new cards. In particular, staff should begin asking your patients for the new cards and making sure your electronic health record system is compatible. Additional details about the number changes are on the CMS website. A smooth transition will ensure you continue to receive payment for services in a timely manner.
But you also need to help inform your patients about the new card. Many may believe it is a duplicate card and throw it away or file it away and never give you a copy. CMS has published free resources to help notify your patients that the new cards are coming. These include both downloadable options and printed materials that illustrate what the new card will look like, how patients should update their mailing address with the Social Security Administration, and that they should keep an eye out for their cards in the mail. An example of one of these posters in English (they come in several languages) is shown above.
More information about the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier cards can be found on CMS.gov.
– Barbara Hays, CPC, CPMA, CPC-I, CEMC, Coding and Compliance Strategist for the American Academy of Family Physicians
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