Q/A: Can you Help me Understand the New Medicare Insurance Cards?

March 7th, 2019 - Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
Categories:   Medicare   Billing  
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Question

We've had some patients coming in with new Medicare cards, but not all of them. Does every Medicare patient have a new card? Am I supposed to be using the new number on all the claims and what's with the dashes in the new number, do I use that on claims? Could you provide a little more information for us? Thanks.

Answer

As many of you are aware, CMS began issuing new Medicare identification cards last year which required the replacement of social security numbers with a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). All cards have now been mailed out and patient's should have the new cards when they come in. Currently, we are in the transition period until January 2020. This means that even though you should be using the new MBI on claims, you have some time to phase out the old ID numbers in your system.

Every beneficiary should have a new card, but don't be surprised if they come in and don't have one because they might not realize that they were supposed to replace their old cards. If they come in and don't have the new card, you can check their eligibility through your Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) portal (CLICK HERE for a list of portal websites). Update your office protocols to be sure that you ask if they have received a new card.

If a patient comes in with both cards. Encourage them to shred/destroy the old red, white, and blue Original Medicare cards for their own security, but make it clear that they should NOT destroy their Medicare Advantage card or their social security card.

MEDICARE ADVANTAGE: Those that are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan could come in with both a Medicare Advantage Plan ID card and the new Medicare ID Card. When submitting claims, be sure that you use the Medicare Advantage card to submit claims.

DASHES: As for the dashes in between the digits of the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), these are ONLY for display purposes. Do NOT include dashes on submitted claims.

ELIGIBILITY: As mentioned above, you can look up a patient on your MAC's secure portal. You can also confirm that the MBI is valid using the HIPAA Eligibility Transaction System (HETS), just
like you can currently confirm Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICN) and patient’s eligibility today.

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