Currently, your Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) is your Social Security Number (SSN) with a letter at the end. This has never been a safe system as your SSN is required on numerous financial and personal information. If you lose your current Medicare card someone has your Social Security Number and a potential problem. It could cause financial and/or medical harm or identity theft.
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, requires Social Security to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019.
Why is this Important?
When your Medicare number is changed, our government can better protect you with your:
- Private health information
- Financial Information
- Health care benefits
- Payments for healthcare
CMS states moving to new Medicare numbers and cards requires a lot of changes to their systems and how they do business.
The work has begun and it is likely CMS will be issuing new MBIs and Medicare cards no earlier than April 2018 although April 2019 is the agreed upon date to start issuing your new Medicare card.
CMS plans to have a transition period where you can use either the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) or your MBI to exchange data with them. The transition period will begin no earlier than April 1, 2018 and run through December 31, 2019.
The New System
Under the new system, for each person enrolled in Medicare, CMS will:
- Assign a new MBI
- Send a new Medicare card
Remember, the MBI is confidential just like your SSN and should be protected as “Personally Identifiable Information.”
How will the MBI look?
Your new MBI will be:
- Clearly different than the HICN and RRB number
- 11-characters in length
- Made up only of numbers and uppercase letters (no special characters, such as #,%,!, etc.)
Will this hurt your Medicare benefits?
CMS states that your new MBI won’t change Medicare benefits.
People with Medicare may start using their new Medicare cards and MBIs as soon as they get them.
This is a good step as we are all aware of the various types of fraud and identity theft, both financial and medical.
Always protect your Medicare Card.