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New Medicare cards in the mail; MBIs available through portal

June 20th, 2018 | Posted in Insurance Coverage

Be aware that patients may be using their new Medicare cards by now: CMS confirms that it has started sending out the new cards with new Medicare beneficiary identifiers (MBIs), and some of your clients may have already received them.

CMS’ rollout of the new cards — created to address security issues caused by the use of Social Security number-based health care identification numbers (HICNs) — was planned to start in April. The agency announced June 7 that it started mailing the cards out.

The first wave of cards has been sent to new Medicare beneficiaries, Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) beneficiaries and beneficiaries who live in Alaska, American Samoa, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Maryland, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

The rest will receive cards in a second wave for which no date has been announced except “after June,” according to CMS.

Patients may come in with their new cards at any time, but you can use the HICNs until the end of 2019 — after which claims will be accepted only with the MBI. If a patient has been issued a card but hasn’t given it to you and you want to record the new MBI for record-keeping purposes, a provider can access the patient’s MBI via the Medicare administrative contractor (MAC) portal.

The provider will need to submit four data elements to retrieve the new identifier. A CMS spokesman tells DecisionHealth that the relevant data elements are patient Social Security number; patient first and last name; patient date of birth; and provider/supplier national provider identifier (NPI).

If your patient says she’s lost her card or that it has been stolen, direct them to 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), advises Steven Weisman, an elder law attorney with Margolis and Bloom in Boston. “The provider does not have an obligation to help the patient contact CMS but would want to follow up with the patient to make sure that he or she straightens out the matter with CMS,” says Weisman. — Roy Edroso (