Your Medicare patients will have new ID cards coming their way in June. That’s because Medicare is switching from Social Security numbers on ID cards to new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs). The goal is to avoid the risk of identity theft associated with using Social Security numbers.

It’s important that your practice updates patients’ Medicare ID numbers as they become available. If you continue using the old numbers, you could eventually face payment delays.

What you can do now

First, give your staff a heads-up about this change. And encourage your front-office team to ask for patients’ new Medicare cards starting in June.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are giving providers until January 1, 2020, to use the new numbers. But it’s best to get in the habit of using this updated information from the start — especially since people who are new to Medicare as of April 2018 and after will only get a card with the MBI.

If you use vendors to bill Medicare, contact them to find out about their MBI practice management system changes. You may need to make changes to your internal practice management system, as well.

You might also want to find out how other health care providers who also treat your patients are handling the transition from HICNs to MBIs. This will help you coordinate your systems if necessary.

Tools you can use

If you don’t already have access to your Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) provider portal, sign up soon. This will let you use the provider MBI look-up tool starting in June 2018. (Your office staff might want to coordinate with your billing/administrative staff, who may already have portal access.)

You can also find resources to communicate this change to patients on Medicare’s Outreach & Education page.