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  • CMS: Start Preparing for New Medicare Beneficiary ID Numbers

    Although the official rollout won't occur until 2018, it's not too soon for health care providers to prepare their practice management systems for a new Medicare beneficiary ID system that no longer uses Social Security numbers (SSNs).

    Details on the change are available in a guidance resource from the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The shift will move the Medicare system away from Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICNs) that contain the beneficiary's SSN, and toward a CMS-generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The change, intended to thwart fraud, was required by provisions in the Affordable Care Act and the Small Business Jobs Act.

    According to CMS, new cards with MBIs will be mailed to beneficiaries beginning in April 2018, with official startup of the use of MBIs in claims beginning in October of the same year. Providers can start using the MBI as soon as their patients receive the new cards and should have systems in place to accept the new number by April 2018.

    The changeover includes a transition period from October 2018 through December 2019, during which time CMS will accept claims using either the HICN or MBI.

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