New Medicare Cards with New Numbers: 3 Changes You May Need to Make

By Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC
September, 2017

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 requires CMS to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards with a new Medicare number (currently called the Medicare Claim Number on cards) to your patients in April 2018. You may need to change your systems to:

1. Accept the new Medicare number (Medicare Beneficiary Identifier or MBI). Use the MBI format specifications if  you currently have edits on the current Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN).

 2. Identify your patients who qualify for Medicare under the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). You will no longer be able to distinguish RRB patients by the number on the new Medicare card. You will be able to identify them by the RRB logo on their card, and we will return a message on the eligibility transaction response for a RRB patient. The message will say, “Railroad Retirement Medicare Beneficiary” in 271 Loop 2110C, Segment MSG. If you use the number only to identify your RRB patients beginning in April 2018, you must identify them differently to send Medicare claims to the RRB Specialty Medicare Administrative Contractor, Palmetto GBA.

3. Update your practice management system’s patient numbers to automatically accept the new Medicare number or MBI from the remittance advice (835) transaction. Beginning in October 2018, through the transition period, CMS will return your patient’s MBI on every electronic remittance advice for claims you submit with a valid and active HICN. It will be in the same place you currently get the “changed HICN”: 835 Loop 2100, Segment NM1 (Corrected Patient/Insured Name), Field NM109 (Identification Code).

If you use vendors to bill Medicare, contact them if they haven’t already shared their new Medicare card system changes with you; they can also tell you how they will pass the new Medicare number to you. Visit the New Medicare Card Provider webpage for the latest information.


Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC

About the Author

Elizabeth Woodcock is the founder and principal of Woodcock & Associates. She has focused on medical group operations and revenue cycle management for more than 20 years and has led educational sessions for the Medical Group Management Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, and the American Medical Association. She has authored and co-authored many books. She is frequently published and quoted in national publications including The Wall Street Journal, Family Practice Management, MGMA Connexion, and American Medical News. Elizabeth is a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives and a Certified Professional Coder. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University, she completed a Master of Business Administration in healthcare management from The Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.


The contents of The Sentinel are intended for educational/informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Policyholders are urged to consult with their personal attorney for legal advice, as specific legal requirements may vary from state to state and/or change over time.