The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, requires CMS to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status. You can find more details in CMS’s 5/30/17 press release and latest Open Door Forum slides (6/8/17).

CMS currently use an SSN-based HICN to identify people with Medicare and administer the program. Under the new system, for each person enrolled in Medicare, CMS will:

  • Assign a new MBI
  • Mail a new Medicare card

The MBI is confidential like the SSN and should be protected as Personally Identifiable Information.

Why are the new Medicare cards important?

The biggest reason CMS is removing the SSN from Medicare cards is to fight medical identity theft for people with Medicare.  By replacing the SSN-based HICN on all Medicare cards, CMS can better protect:

  • Private health care and financial information
  • Federal health care benefit and service payments

CMS often heard from Congress, the General Accountability Office, people with Medicare, and advocacy groups that they want the SSN taken off Medicare cards.

What’s the timeline for the new Medicare cards?

CMS has already started this work and wants to shift to the new MBIs by April 2018. Beginning in April 2018, CMS will start mailing the new Medicare cards with the MBI to all people with Medicare. They will randomize card mailing by geographic location.