Under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is required to change the Medicare Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), which is currently based on social security numbers, to a new randomly-generated Medicare Beneficiary Identification (MBI) number by April, 2019. This will most likely require changes to many of the systems that providers use, for example, systems to store patient data and submit claims. The new numbers will have 11 alpha-numeric spaces rather than the 9 digits in social security numbers. Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the new identification number format.
Providers should begin looking at necessary system changes and discussing them with vendors. They should also determine whether they need an updated business associate agreement with their vendors. CMS’ goal is to have all providers ready to accept the new MBIs by April 2018. They will begin sending new Medicare cards to beneficiaries no earlier than that date. There will be a transition period from April 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019 in which either the current HICN number or the new MBI number will be accepted.