This month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing out the new Medicare cards to residents in Illinois.
In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. This law requires the removal of Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019 and the issuing of new Medicare cards to replace the old ones. This new initiative is to protect against fraud and identity theft. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the Social Security Number (SSN)-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status.
The new Medicare card will have a completely different and randomly assigned identifier that will be 11 characters long, containing a mix of numbers and uppercase letters. This is the MBI. CMS is also removing the gender and signature line from the new Medicare card. The MBI is confidential like your SSN and should be protected as personal health information.
If a beneficiary is new to Medicare after April 2018, the beneficiary will receive the new MBI card. CMS has until April 2019 to mail out new cards to all 60 million national Medicaid beneficiaries. Current Medicare cards will be accepted until December 31, 2019, after which only the new MBI card will be accepted.
The new card will not impact current Medicare benefits or status. Beneficiaries are asked to destroy, not throw away, their old Medicare cards once the new one is received.
The Illinois Attorney General’s office is warning residents about scams contacting you by email or phone asking you to confirm your Medicare number so they can send you a new card. If you need to update your mailing address you can do so online here or by calling 1-800-772-1213.