CMS (Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services) is getting on board with stopping identity theft and fraud by issuing new Medicare cards.
The Problem: For years, Medicare has used patient’s social security numbers as the basis of the member’s ID. The SSN is currently printed on every patient’s Medicare insurance card, which makes patients more vulnerable for having their SSN improperly exposed.
The Solution: CMS will begin to issue and mail new insurance cards to Medicare patients beginning in April of 2018. All cards are expected to be issued by April 2019. The new insurance cards will consist of 11 randomly generated alpha/numeric characters. No SSNs will be used as any portion of the ID. In terms of appearance, the cards will be much the same as they are now, with the exception of the unique ID.
What Patients, Providers, & Medical Billing Companies Need to Do:
Patients will want to be sure that the address they have on file with the Social Security Administration is current and accurate so that they receive their new cards in the mail. If patients need assistance with making that change, check out this link for step-by-step instructions: How Medicare Patients Can Update their Address with the SSA.
Healthcare Providers can keep abreast of the changes and the rollout plan by signing up for CMS email updates (MLN Newsletters). The newsletters have helpful information not only on the new Medicare ID initiative, but also on medical policy updates, coding guidelines, new resources and digital tools to improve office efficiency. Sign up for Medicare Newsletters Here
Providers will also want to make sure the front desk is well-informed of the change, and are prepared to begin asking Medicare patient’s for their new insurance cards in April of 2018. Bear in mind that the cards will be mailed out over the course of a year, so not all Medicare patients will have the new ID’s at the same time.
Medical Billing Companies: Be sure that your software is current and can accept the new 11 digit format. If you have previous overrides in place that prevent staff from keying a policy incorrectly, be sure that those are updated to accommodate the new alphanumeric sequence. Specific guidelines on the format are published here: New Medicare Member ID Format.