Medicare has a major change coming this year and I want to make sure you are aware. The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) will be replacing all members’ cards starting in April 2018. They are replacing the cards based on a provision in the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). MACRA section 501 requires CMS to remove Social Security numbers (SSN) from Medicare cards and to replace the use of SSNs with new, randomly generated Medicare beneficiary identifiers, or MBIs by April 2019, to protect the individual’s identity.
This massive card replacement will affect clients who use Medicare Supplement Insurance to fill in the gaps in their Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. Individuals insured with a Medicare Advantage plan will also get new original Medicare cards, but they should continue to use their Medicare Advantage plan cards when seeking medical care.
The new cards will look just like they have in the past with a red, white, and blue palette, except these cards will not include the individual’s SSN, and will instead have a Medicare number. The MBI on their Medicare card includes both numbers and letters for optimal security. See below what the new cards will look like with the new MBI number:
Starting April 2018, newly eligible beneficiaries will get a card with a unique number regardless of where they live. For those individuals who currently have a Medicare card, CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards over a period of approximately 12 months based on geographic location and some other factors. Ohio and Kentucky will be of the last states to get the new cards. Below is a chart that shows, based on the area, when individuals will receive their new card:
Beginning in April 2018, individuals with Medicare will be able to go to Medicare.gov/newcard to sign up for emails about the card mailing and to check the card mailing status in their state. Individuals may use their card immediately upon receiving it. They will be able to use either the SSN-based or the new random alphanumeric-based numbers through December 2019. Beginning January 1, 2020, only the new cards will be accepted.
With any change in Medicare comes confusion. This is a great opportunity to reach out to your clients to explain any changes and what they can expect. Click here for a one-page flyer from CMS that outlines the details of the new Medicare card. This is a great reference for your clients.