As you have most likely heard, as of April of 2018, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services began mailing new Medicare cards to all active beneficiaries. These cards no longer have the Social Security number included on the cards in an attempt to minimize the threats of identity theft. Instead, the card will identify each person by including a unique Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) consisting of random uppercase letters and numbers.
The transition for these cards will end in 2019, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t start preparing your practice as soon as possible. Keep reading for some advice on how to ensure your staff and patients will know exactly what to do once these cards start showing up in the mail and at the office.
Prepare Your Medicare Patients
For appointments scheduled after the cards have been released, include reminders to your patients that they will need to bring their news cards when they come.
- Check that all of your patient’s information is valid in your system.
- Put up notices explaining the change in your waiting rooms. The fliers should help your patients prepare for the new cards with advice including:
- Patients should make sure that their mailing address is up to date so they are able to receive their new card in the mail. This can be done at ssa.gov/myaccount or by calling 1-800-772-1213
- They should also be notified to be wary of phone calls where people ask for any personal information about their medical plan and should not share their Medicare Number if someone calls asking for it.
Prepare Your Staff
- Inform your staff of the new card’s appearance. The card will look a little different from the last one. It is made of white cardstock and a little bit smaller in size. There are no genders or birthdays on the card as the removal of these items also protect that patient’s identity.
- Make sure that the software you are using is updated so you are able to accept the new card. The program must be able to accept the proper amount of digits to identify the insurance plan. Ask health IT vendors to test your office systems for the MBI format and what the timeline would be if an upgrade is necessary.
- Stay informed. Each staff member should listen to the webinar that gives a briefing by CMS on the new Medicare card. Encourage all of your staff to register for newsletters and phone calls on the CMS’ provider website. (You can also follow our blog to stay up-to-date on the latest medical billing news!)
- Spread awareness of the MBI look-up tool and make sure to sign up for the MAC portal so you have access to it. This tool is scheduled to be released in June 2018 and will allow you to look up the patient’s insurance information if they do not have their Medicare card on them.
If there are any more questions amongst your staff, the Provider Ombudsman for the new Medicare Cards, Dr. Eugene Freund, can be contacted here: NMCProviderQuestions@cms.hhs.gov. Our medical billing specialists are also informed on the latest in Medicare requirements and are always available to help. Contact us here.