New Medicare Cards in the Mail!
New Medicare cards with the new Medicare Beneficiary Identification (MBI) numbers are in the mail, but don’t get too excited. It will take up to a year to get them all out.
Who’s Getting Medicare Cards and When?
The new cards, which replace the risky Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) with the new unique numbers, are first being sent to people enrolling in Medicare regardless of where they live. Current Medicare beneficiaries, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said, will get new cards in waves over the coming months. Beneficiaries in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia will get theirs in May. Mailings to the rest of the country will begin “after June.”
CMS said it is working to improve its mailing strategy to assure:
- New cards are mailed to the correct addresses.
- Current Medicare beneficiaries and their personal information is protected.
How Does Medicare Transition Affect Medical Coders?
CMS has been testing systems, using the new MBI to make sure they can be used. But the agency hasn’t chosen to conduct end-to-end testing because it will accept both MBIs and HICNs until Jan. 1, 2020. After that date you have to report claims using MBIs regardless of the date of service.
It wouldn’t be a true transition without exceptions, however, and here are exceptions CMS announced:
- Appeals – You can use either the HICN or the MBI for claims appeals and related forms.
- Claim status query – You can use either the HICN or MBI to check the status of a claim (276 transactions) if the earliest date of service on the claim is before January 1, 2020. If you’re checking the status of a claim with a date of service on or after January 1, 2020, you have to use the MBI.
- Span-date claims – You can use the HICN for 11X-Inpatient Hospital, 32X-Home Health (home health claims & Request for Anticipated Payments (RAPs)), and 41X-Religious Non-Medical Health Care Institution claims if the “From Date” is before the end of the transition period (12/31/2019). You can submit claims received between April 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019 using the HICN or the MBI. If a patient starts getting services in an inpatient hospital, home health, or religious non-medical health care institution before December 31, 2019, but stops getting those services after December 31, 2019, you may submit a claim using either the HICN or the MBI, even if you submit it after December 31, 2019.
Recognizing the New Medicare Card
Suspicious if the patient’s new card is legitimate? The new MBI is 11 characters long, with numbers and upper case letters. No special characters will be included. CMS cautions that if you submit the MBI in lower case, their system will convert the letters to upper case.
If your patient asks, the card doesn’t change their benefits and they should start using them as soon as they receive them. The effective date is the date the beneficiary was eligible for Medicare.