New Medicare ID Cards Arriving Soon
By David Doolittle


Starting this month, Medicare patients might begin showing up at your practice with new identification cards.

As we reported last year, the new cards will no longer carry patients’ health insurance claim number (HICN), which is based on their Social Security number. Instead, the card will carry randomly generated Medicare beneficiary identifiers (MBIs). 

The New Medicare Card project is part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). 

By now your systems will need to be able to accept the new MBI format. However, you’ll be able to bill and file health care claims using a patient’s HICN during a 21-month transition period, which runs through Dec. 31, 2019. 

Beginning in October, through the transition period, when you submit a claim using a patient's HICN, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will return both numbers — the HICN and the MBI — on every remittance advice, as shown in this example. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, you have to submit claims using MBIs (with a few exceptions), no matter what date you performed the service. For more information, visit CMS' provider page on the new Medicare card

CMS will begin mailing new cards nationwide in April. Texas residents will begin to receive them after June, CMS said.

Here are some things you can do to ease the transition:


  1. Verify all of your Medicare patients’ addresses. If the address you have on file is different from a Medicare address you get on electronic eligibility transactions, ask your patients to contact Social Security and update their Medicare records.
  2. Help Medicare patients adjust to their new Medicare card, and hang CMS posters in your office (English and Spanish), available this fall. CMS also has published guidelines for talking to patients. CMS' partners and employers page has additional resources.


Visit for more Medicare news and information.

Last Updated On

April 17, 2018

Originally Published On

April 10, 2018

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David Doolittle


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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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