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A New Medicare Number For Your Patients

Medicare number

Medicare is going to be mailing all Medicare patients a new Medicare number and your practice needs to update their records.

In June, we posted an article about Medicare’s decision to stop using Social Security numbers.  Your patients likely call this their Medicare number. Since the transition date is looming ahead we thought an overview might be helpful.


  1. The effective date is April 2018.
  2. The new Medicare number will be called the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI).
  3. Your patients will get new cards with the MBI on the card.
  4. You will no longer be able to identify Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) members by their Medicare numbers.  You will be able to identify them by the RRB logo on their card.
  5. The MBI will have 11 characters.  It is unique to each person and will be clearly different from the HICN.
  6. The MBI is randomly generated so there is no link or hidden information related to the patient.
  7. MBIs will fit on forms the same way HICNs do.  You don’t need spaces for dashes.
  8. Here is an example of the way the MBI will look: 1EG4-TE5-MK73.


  1. Your office must be ready to accept the MBI by April 2018 for transactions such as billing, claim status, eligibility status and interactions with MAC.
  2. There will be a transition period when you can use either the HICN or the MBI to exchange data and information with Medicare.  The transition period will start April 1, 208 and run through December 31, 2019.  However, your systems must be ready to accept the new MBI by April 1, 2018.
  3. It is especially important that you are ready for people who are new to Medicare because they will only have the new MBI.
  4. Verify your Medicare patients’ addresses because they won’t get a new card if their address isn’t correct.
  5. Starting in June 2018, you can look up your patients’ MBI through your Medicare Administrative Contractor’s (MAC) portal when the patients can’t or doesn’t give them to you.
  6. You can get more information by visiting Medicare’s Card Home and Provider webpages at

Medicare has stated that they will “work closely with other payers, State Medicaid Agencies, and supplemental insurers to make sure the crossover claims process will still work”.  Please note that they are not guaranteeing it will work.

As with all things related to payers, Ben Franklin had the right saying, “Distrust and caution are the parents of security”.


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