Understanding Your New Medicare ID Card
In an effort to help reduce health care fraud and identity theft, as well as to comply with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, Medicare has changed the identification cards that are used by its enrollees – starting with eliminating beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers from the new cards.
Going forward, each Medicare enrollee will now be assigned a “Medicare Beneficiary Identifier,” or MBI. This identification number will consist of eleven characters, and it will include numbers and upper case letters. There will be no special characters included.
These MBI figures are not tied in any way to an enrollee’s birth date or other personally identifiable information. Rather, the numbers are randomly generated and then assigned to Medicare recipients.
Once the new ID cards are in effect, Medicare enrollees should expect to use these new MBI identification numbers for both the receipt of Medicare health care benefits, as well as for claims and billing-related purposes.
By replacing the Social Security number-based ID cards, both Medicare and the Social Security Administration will be better able to help consumers with protecting their private health care and financial information, as well as federal health care benefits and service payments.
When to Expect Your New Identification Card from Medicare
The first group of new Medicare cards was mailed out in April of this year. However, the transition process is expected to take up to one year, with ID cards being sent between April 2018 and April 2019, based on enrollees’ geographic location.
Those who are initially enrolling in Medicare for the very first time, however, will be among the first in the nation to receive these new ID cards. For those who are already enrolled in Medicare, the new cards will automatically be sent out, with no need to contact Medicare (unless the enrollee’s address has to be updated).
During the Medicare identification card transition period, Medicare beneficiaries will have the option of using either their current Social Security number-based Health Insurance Claim Number, or their new MBI identification number. Then, as of January 1, 2020, all enrollees must use their new ID card numbers for their Medicare transactions.
Just as with the current Medicare identification cards, the MBI should be kept confidential, and should also be protected just like any other personally identifiable information. Likewise, once the new Medicare ID card has been received, it is important to destroy the old card, as this can help to reduce the likelihood of becoming the victim of fraud or identity theft.
Need Additional Information Regarding Your Medicare Card or Benefits?
While the new Medicare ID cards will have a different look, the MBI identifier will not change Medicare benefits or coverage. Once an enrollee receives the new card, the MBI number may be used for enrolling in Medicare health, Medicare Advantage, and/or a Medicare Part D prescription plan.
Depending on the plan that an individual enrolls in, a separate identification card may also be received from the insurance carrier – and it may be the primary card that is used by healthcare providers.
For instance, for those who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage / Medicare Part C plan (such as an HMO or a PPO), the Medicare Advantage plan’s own identification card is considered the primary card for Medicare benefits – although oftentimes, enrollees are also asked to show their regular Medicare ID card when receiving various health care services.
If you have any questions or need any additional information about your Medicare benefits, you can go directly to the Medicare website at www.Medicare.gov. In addition, there are updated details available regarding the new Medicare identification cards posted on the website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at www.cms.gov/medicare/new-medicare-card/nmc-home.html.
You can also call us with any questions you may have at (800) 208-4974.
Alex Wender is the founder and CEO of Bluewave Insurance. He has been blogging about Medicare-related topics since 2010. Since then, he and his agency have helped thousands of people across the country choose the right Medicare to fit their needs.