What Is SSNRI And What Changes Will It Create?

By Paul McMillen | National Director, Medicare/Individual

One of the lesser known provisions of the 2015 “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization” (MACRA as it is known) that you might not be familiar with yet is something called Social Security Number removal initiative (SSNRI). This initiative, which Congress put aside $320 million dollars over five years to fund, is being driven by Health and Human Services (which includes CMS). This change is being made to help reduce identity theft among social security beneficiaries. Starting in April of 2018, CMS will start issuing new Medicare cards to current beneficiaries that will include Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBI)—yet another acronym for us to learn. The goal is to give all current, active Medicare beneficiaries their new MBI by the end of December of 2019.

Medicare currently processes more than one billion claims a year from roughly 1.5 million health care providers.

As you can imagine, this new MBI will affect how many entities conduct their business on a day-to-day basis. Doctor offices, hospitals, insurance carriers, pharmacies, state Medicaid offices, and health insurance brokers like you are only a few. This change may require many of the above mentioned businesses to go through software upgrades and potential system changes to prepare for the new identifier. It is easy to assume that there will be some temporary delays and growing pains in exchange for the long-term benefit.

Since this new MBI will eventually be the only identifier used by insurance carriers to divulge information to brokers, you might want to consider adding an MBI column to your current client databases going forward. When you currently call an insurance carrier, one of the first pieces of information they ask you for is your clients Medicare or HICN number. That number is now going to be changing! The new MBI will be an 11-character identifier unlike the 10-character HICN number that was used in the past. Here is a link to what the new MBI format will be using to create the 11-character identifiers. These MBI’s will not only be issued for the roughly 60 million active Medicare beneficiaries, but eventually for the 90 million deceased beneficiaries as well. CMS has promised a lot of outreach and education is to follow regarding the implementation of SSNRI, so please stay tuned.

Contact Cornerstone today with any questions regarding SSNRI.

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