Medicare Beneficiary Card Changes Beginning April 2018


By: Lorna Simons, CPC
Medco Consultants, Inc

The effects of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) are rippling all throughout the healthcare community. Medicare beneficiaries will also be effected as the current Health Claim Numbers (HICNs) will be replaced. As part of MACRA, the Medicare Beneficiary Cards which use the patient’s individual social security number, will be replaced with a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI).  

The MBIs will be 11 characters and alphanumeric. The new identifier will not affect the beneficiary’s benefits. The push for the new identification numbers is to safeguard patients against fraud and identity theft. 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.