June 15, 2017

New Identification Cards to Provide Better Security for Medicare Beneficiaries

By Rick Meeske, Senior, Advisory Services

New Identification Cards to Provide Better Security for Medicare Beneficiaries

Personal identity theft is becoming a bigger threat, especially to seniors, who are more frequently becoming victims to Medicare identity theft and fraud. According to a news release from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the number of incidents among seniors increased from 2.1 million to 2.6 million from 2012 to 2014. Of those affected by identity theft and fraud, two thirds of the victims reported some sort of financial impact.

As part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization ACT (MACRA) of 2015, CMS announced plans to create new Medicare cards, which will be issued starting in April of 2018. The Social Security Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) will no longer appear on the card, but will be replaced with a randomly assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier or MBI. This change will provide greater security to more than 57.5 million Americans with Medicare benefits.

Once the new cards are issued, there will be a transition period through December 2019, during which providers will be able to continue to use HICN for billing, eligibility status, and claim status. During the transition, providers will be expected to update their systems to accept MBI as well as to work out any issues they may be having with the conversion.

Prior to April of 2018, there are many steps that providers can take in order to prepare themselves for the release of the MBI numbers:

  • Providers should verify their Medicare beneficiaries’ mailing addresses to make sure they match what is in the Medicare system. If there is an error, the beneficiary must contact the Social Security Administration to update the information.
  • Providers should contact their third party and software vendors (accounting, billing, etc.) to make sure they have all the current updates to prepare for the MBI conversion.
  • Review all policies and procedures for areas that will need to be updated when the new MBI numbers are released, such as:
    – Admissions/intake procedures.
    – Verification of benefits.
    – Billing.
  • All systems and processes should be tested and ready by April 2018.
  • For updates and further details, visit the Social Security Number Removal Initiative webpage.

If you have any questions about the MBI transition, steps you should be taking now, or how this will affect your organization in the future, Marcum LLP is here to help. Please contact your Marcum advisor.

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