Since April 2017, CMS has been rolling out its new Medicare beneficiary cards in phases to a variety of states and territories of the U.S., and many are still awaiting their arrival. As some healthcare organizations begin to encounter patients with new cards and many more prepare to, leaders may be wondering what impact—if any—this change may have on their workflows.
Though it might seem the advent of new Medicare cards would require major workflow adjustments, HBI spoke with one organization in Nebraska that found the opposite to be true. In January 2018, the organization formed a project group to assess the potential impact of the transition and identified that any technological or workflow disruption would be minimal. Instead, it found educating front-end staff to address patients’ questions and concerns would be a more valuable use of time and resources.
With this in mind, HBI has identified the following points as items patient-facing staff should know and be prepared to communicate to Medicare beneficiaries during the transition:
CMS has issued new cards to protect your identity.
Let patients know that the new Medicare cards contain a random, unique, and non-intelligent Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), which replaces the former SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN). Thus, it is vital that patients destroy their old cards as soon as they receive the new ones.
Though safer, it is important to protect your new card and keep your MBI confidential.
Beneficiaries have been warned to be on the lookout for scammers who attempt to obtain MBIs by calling patients to ask them for information or payment under the guise of a Medicare representative. Let beneficiaries know that CMS will not call them to ask for personal information or payment and that the new cards are free and will arrive automatically via mail.
If you haven’t received your new Medicare card yet, don’t worry. CMS is mailing out cards through April 2019, and we can continue to accept your old card through the end of 2019. However, we do recommend using your new card as soon as it arrives.
CMS’s grace period for accepting both the MBI and HICN on Medicare claims ends December 31, 2019. After that date, claims using the HICN will be denied by Medicare. Regardless, it is important to remind patients to use their new cards as soon as they arrive in order to protect their identities and allow staff to gain familiarity with the MBI sooner rather than later.
Your Medicare benefits will not be affected by this change.
In addition to this, it may be necessary for staff to let Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, specifically, know that they should continue using their Medicare Advantage cards—which are already non-SSN-based—even after receiving their MBI.
Equipping front-end staff with the information above may promote productive and positive conversations with Medicare beneficiaries during the transition to new cards. HBI has created additional materials that may be used to educate staff on this topic, including an article outlining important facts about the transition and a presentation examining features of the new cards and MBIs, accessible on our members-only portal.
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