MEDICARE TO STOP USING SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
MEDICARE SAYS NO MORE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
Medicare has announced they will stop using Social Security numbers for identification beginning April 2018. The change is required by a law enacted two years ago to discourage identity theft.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently updated its web page to help health care providers prepare for the change. Medicare plans to begin mailing the new cards with unique Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBI) to each person. According to the Medicare website, the agency is just now trying to figure out the best way to mail the cards. They plan a “wide-scale outreach” to let beneficiaries know that they need to bring their new Medicare cards when they receive medical care.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
Don’t expect CMS to reach every one of your patients and don’t count on the patients to remember to bring their new card to their appointment. Start getting the word out to your patients now. Let you patients know that they will be getting new cards. Let them know that they must bring this card into your office. Include this information on your website and in your newsletter. Prepare handouts and fliers that you can leave in your waiting room and at the front desk. Be ready to remind your patients to bring their new Medicare cards at the time of service.
Update the patient registration information with the MBI number as soon as patients present with their new card. It is best to scan the new Medicare card into the practice management system. Scanning all insurance cards is a good practice since it allows the billing team to easily access the information and correct or update, as necessary.
WHAT CAN THE BILLING AND COLLECTION TEAM DO?
Now is the time to make sure that the practice management software can accept the new 11 digit alpha numeric MBI. Whether you outsource your billing and collections or have an in-house team it is imperative to make sure they are prepared to file claims with this new number.
Your billing and collections team can also participate in notifying your Medicare patients about the new cards. Every interaction with a Medicare beneficiary is a chance to remind them about the upcoming change and what they need to do.
As part of Onpoint Medical Solutions due diligence, the practice management software has already been tested. The software can accept the MBI, claims are accurately populated and can be submitted. Make sure your billing and collections team has done their due diligence, as well.
CMS has indicated there will be a transition period through 2019. A knee jerk reaction is to think it is way too early and you will worry about that later. However, you don’t want to wait until the last minute. If you postpone this will become a daunting task. Contacting all of your Medicare patients will require some time. Failure to update and utilize the MBI will ultimately result in claim rejections and delayed payments.