On May 31, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it had begun mailing new Medicare cards to beneficiaries in Wave 2 states and territories: Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, and Oregon. As well, the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) began mailing new Medicare cards on June 1, 2018, to all people who get RRB benefits nationwide.
Beneficiaries in Wave 1 states (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia), and any beneficiaries who are new to Medicare also will continue to receive the new Medicare cards, which have a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) that replaces the former Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN).
Indiana is in Wave 3, along with Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, which are scheduled to begin receiving the new cards after June 2018.
Once beneficiaries receive their new Medicare cards, they can start using them right away. Healthcare providers and suppliers can use either the former HICN or the new alpha-numeric MBI through December 31, 2019. After that date, only the MBI will be accepted.
If a Medicare patient doesn’t or can’t present his/her new MBI when receiving healthcare, providers can lookup the new MBI using an MBI Lookup tool being offered through the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs). The patient’s first name, last name, date of birth, and social security number are required to get a unique match. The MBI is confidential, must be protected as Personally Identifiable Information, and can be used only for Medicare-related business.
Earlier in May, WPS GHA, Indiana’s MAC, announced that users of their portal now have access to the MBI Lookup tool. However, CMS recently clarified that the look-up tool will only return an MBI if the new Medicare card has been mailed. According to CMS, “This avoids potential confusion if the MBI is used before the beneficiary receives their new Medicare card/MBI.”
Starting in October 2018 through the end of the transition period, beneficiaries’ MBIs also will be returned on Remittance Advices when claims are submitted with valid and active Health Insurance Claim Numbers.
For more information about when the new Medicare cards will be mailed to beneficiaries in your area, check out CMS’s mailing strategy. For more information about the new Medicare cards in general, check out CMS’s New Medicare Card webpage.
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