CMS SSNRI Initiative Set to Eliminate SSNs from Medicare Cards in 2018

CMS Announces That Its 2018 Social Security Number Removal Initiative Will Issue New Medicare Cards to Protect Cardholder Identities
CLEARWATER, Fla. - July 24, 2017 - PRLog -- To improve security and comply with the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act of 2015, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, declared its intention to begin issuing new Medicare credentials. Starting in 2018, CMS will transition away from SSNs and Health Insurance Claim Numbers, or HICNs, in favor of non-personally identifying Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers, or MBIs.

In the new program, known as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative, or SSNRI, CMS plans on working to minimize the burdens that the transition places on beneficiaries and care providers. For instance, it will generate and assign some 150 million unique MBIs for new Medicare beneficiaries and individuals who have been compromised by identity theft. It also plans on creating MBIs for archived Medicare records and those associated with deceased individuals.

Although the MBI format shares the HICN's 11-character standard, CMS intends for it to be easily distinguishable from the old identifiers and easy to read. As such, all MBIs will include alphabetic characters at the same positions and exclude certain letters that might be confusable with numbers.

For caregivers, patients and others who rely on accurate Medicare information, the transition should be relatively easy to manage because the MBIs will occupy the same spaces formerly reserved for HICNs within paperwork and health records. CMS also plans to implement a transition period scheduled to last from April 1, 2018 until December 31, 2019. During this window, beneficiaries and providers can exchange Medicare data with CMS using HICNs or MBIs.

Once MBIs become the official standard on January 1, 2020, caregivers and beneficiaries will only be permitted to use HICNs in a few limited situations. For instance, either HICNs or MBIs will work in appeals for Medicare plans and fee-for-service claims. HICNs are also set to remain valid indefinitely for processing systems like Risk Adjustment and Drug Data.

The Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration has been pushing for the removal of SSNs from Medicare cards for many years. As 2015 data from the Department of Justice revealed, identity theft incidents impacted 2.6 million seniors in 2014 alone, which was an increase of half a million from 2012 figures.

The new MBIs won't change seniors Medicare eligibility, but they will need to understand the difference in order to manage and access their benefits. Since they won't be able to use their old HICNs for many services, it's best if they keep an eye out for official CMS mailings containing their new Medicare cards and get in the habit of using their MBIs early.



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Original Press release for CMS SSNRI Initiative Set to Eliminate SSNs from Medicare Cards in 2018 ( was found on MedicareFAQ.

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