The CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) is moving forward to remove Social Security numbers from new Medicare cards with the task done by the year of April 2019.
The program, to better secure member information and decrease the risk of identity theft, has been in the works for some time, with the Government Accountability Office in 2013 taking CMS to task for lagging in eliminating Social Security numbers. Among other advice, GAO at that time recommended that new technology architecture be constructed to support shared services that could involve a crosswalk to translate the SSN into a new beneficiary identifier.
New Medicare cards will initiate being mailed in April 2018. The cards will replace the Social Security number with a distinctive randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The new identifier will have eleven digits containing numbers and uppercase letters.
Healthcare providers and persons on Medicare will have access to a secure web “lookup” tool in case cards are lost. There will be a transition period from the day of April 1, 2018 through the day of December 31, 2019 during which providers can use either the legacy Social Security number or the MBI to exchange data with CMS.
“After the transition period, CMS will deny claims if the MBI is not used,” the agency cautions. “Once CMS begins mailing out new Medicare cards in the year of April 2018, anyone who is newly enrolled in Medicare will only get an MBI. Therefore, all systems must be ready to start accepting the MBI by April 2018.”
CMS is establishing the lookup tool and other supporting tools and will give updates as they become available.
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