Expect your New Medicare Number Soon!

Expect to see a new Medicare ID number soon! The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a list of dates identifying when each state’s Medicare beneficiaries should expect to receive their new identification cards. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says it will begin mailing the new cards in April 2018. The first enrollees to get the new cards will be beneficiaries in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, according to the wave announcement from CMS.

The previous Medicare cards which used beneficiary Social Security numbers have been replaced with a new number known as the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The Medicare Beneficiary Identifier contains both numbers and letters which are unique to the Medicare beneficiary. CMS is replacing the Medicare card because of a provision in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MARCA), which requires the beneficiary’s social security number to be removed from all Medicare cards by 2019. The provision requires CMS to remove these numbers from all Medicare cards due to identity theft and fraud risks. Additionally, it’s important for beneficiaries to remember to continue to protect their MBI, and it should be treated with just as much protection as social security number or as other personally identifiable information. The new Medicare numbers will have 11 characters in length and will only be made up of numbers, and uppercase letters and the numbers generated at random.

Here is an example of what your Medicare Number will look like: 1EG4-TE5-MK73. The 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 9th characters will always be a letter. The 1st, 4th,7th, 10th, and 11th will always be a number. The dashes are not used as part of the new Medicare number.

There will be a transition period that will start on April 1, 2018, and run through December 31, 2019. During this time CMS will be monitoring the use of HICNS and MBI numbers to see how many are ready to use only MBI based cards by January 2020.

If you have a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you will receive your card by the end of June 2018. Medicare Advantage enrollees will also get new Original Medicare cards, but you can continue to use your Medicare Advantage plan cards when seeking medical care. The new number will not change any Medicare benefits, and you can start using your new Medicare card as soon as you receive it by mail. During the transition period, Medicare will accept claims that use either the older numbers or the new MBI identifiers, CMS says. After the transition period ends, individuals enrolled in a Medicare Supplement plan must start using their MBIs. Insurers can use identification numbers other than new MBIs for non-Medicare business, but eventually, they will have to make sure the Social Security numbers are off of their own plan ID cards, says CMS. If private payers continue to have their own ID numbers, then they should put only their own numbers on enrollees’ cards, not the MBIs, officials say.

When you receive your new Medicare card, you will also find a letter with instructions on how to use your Medicare card. It will arrive in an envelope addressed to you from the Department of Health and Human Services, an example of the front of the envelope is:

The back of the envelope will identify that this letter is official information from Medicare. Your new card will be paper and you will need to destroy your old Medicare card as soon as you receive your new one.

It’s important to remember, replacing your social security number with a new Medicare number is another excellent way to help protect you from identify theft. However, keep in mind, Medicare will never contact you and ask for any of your personal or private information – including your new Medicare card number. If you receive a phone call from anyone claiming to be a Medicare representative, do not give them any of your information and hang up the phone. If you suspect fraud in any way or feel as if your social security number or new Medicare ID has been compromised, please contact Medicare to obtain a new number at 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY: 711).

Do you have questions or concerns about your new Medicare card? Medicare Pathways can help! Give one of our licensed agents a call at 866-466-9118 for more information. You can also visit the official CMS website to learn more about your new Medicare number.