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CMS offers 5 ways providers can get ready for new Medicare cards

Systems need to accept the new number by April 2018, but may file claims using a patient's Social Security number during the transition.

Susan Morse, Associate Editor

Most providers are aware that starting in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will start mailing new Medicare cards that use randomly-selected numbers rather than Social Security identifiers.

All Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019.

CMS is offering five tips to get ready for April 2018, when Medicare patients will start visiting their physician's office with the new cards in hand.

[Also: CMS is working with providers in eliminating Social Security numbers from Medicare cards]

The first is to sign up at CMS's provider website and for the weekly MLN Connects newsletter.

Second, take part in quarterly calls to get more information. The schedule will be in the MLN Connects newsletter.

Third, verify the addresses of all Medicare patients. If the addresses on file is different than the Medicare address on the electronic eligibility transactions, ask the patient to contact Social Security to update their Medicare records.

Fourth, hang posters in the office to alert patients of the change after the new cards become available this fall.

Finally, test system changes and work with billing office staff to ensure the office is ready.

Medicare is taking removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help prevent fraud and identity theft, protect essential program funding and to ensure the safety of private healthcare and financial information for beneficiaries. 

[Also: Panel tells Congress that financial incentives will get healthcare providers to share cybersecurity data]

CMS will issue new cards that have a Medicare beneficiary identifier to replace the existing Social Security-based health insurance claim number that are both on the cards and in various CMS systems now in use.

Based on feedback from healthcare providers, practice managers and other stakeholders, CMS is developing capabilities in which doctors and other healthcare providers will be able to look up the new MBI number through a secure tool at the point of service.

CMS has a 21-month transition period for healthcare providers to use either the new MBI number or Social Security HICN for billing purposes. 

Though systems will need to be able to accept the new MBI format by April 2018, they may bill and file claims using a patient's Social Security number during the transition period.

Systems are encouraged to also work with their billing vendor to make sure the system is updated to reflect the changes.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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