How will the new Medicare ID numbers impact my practice?

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By: Jacqueline Thelian, CPC, CPC-I, CHCA
Medco Consultants, Inc

The new Medicare Beneficiary ID (MBI) numbers will be 11 alphanumeric characters. Starting in April 2018, new beneficiary cards and numbers will be issued. All Medicare cards are expected to be replaced by April 2019. During the transition period healthcare providers will be able to use either patient identifier (HICN or MBI) when submitting claims until December 31, 2019.

The new ID numbers require your practice management systems are updated with the new numbers. Keeping in mind your system will have to be able to identify and handle dual MBI numbers until all claims are paid. Additional concerns occur when a practice submits a claim with an old MBI number and CMS sends back the electronic remittance with the new MBI number. Some practice management systems may not be able to identify the patient.

The biggest challenge will be secondary payers. CMS will notify the secondary payers; however, it is up to the secondary payer to update their systems. 

The best way to prepare is to inform and train your front desk staff of the upcoming change and work with your practice management vendor and IT consultant to enlist their aid for a smooth transition.