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Preparations Begin for Removal of SSNs from Medicare Cards

Medicare providers should begin to evaluate their practice management systems and business processes to prepare for the removal of Social Security numbers (SSNs) from Medicare cards.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 requires CMS to remove SSNs from beneficiaries’ Medicare cards by April 2019. Medicare cards currently have a health insurance claim number (HICN) based on the beneficiary’s SSN. CMS intends to use a randomly-generated 11-character Medicare beneficiary identifier (MBI) instead of the HICN.

In a provider resource on its website, CMS notes that it will begin mailing new Medicare cards no earlier than April 2018. The agency will have a transition period from April 2018 to Dec. 31, 2019.

While CMS encourages providers to begin using MBIs as soon as possible, providers can use either the HICN or the MBI during the transition period. CMS will not change Medicare claim forms providers will input the MBI in the field where the HICN normally is entered. Providers should take precautions to protect their patients’ MBIs, which are personally identifiable information.

CMS will be updating the provider resource page and the main SSN removal initiative page with more educational materials.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Shahid Zaman is a senior policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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