Three Things to Know About the New Medicare Cards
By Ellen Terry

New Railroad Retirement Board Medicare cards are in the mail, and new Medicare cards for Texans will “mail soon,” according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.


Here are three things to know about the new cards and the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). 

  1. Disregard QR codes. The new Medicare cards may have a QR code (a machine-readable square code) on the front or back, but you should ignore it. The code allows the contractor who prints the cards to make sure the right card goes to the right person with Medicare or Railroad Retirement Board benefits. You can’t use the codes for any other purpose.
  2. Don’t use hyphens. Just like with the old health insurance claim number (HICN), MBI hyphens on the new card are for illustration purposes. Don’t include the hyphens or spaces on transactions.
  3. Note that IDs can change. Unlike the old Social Security number-based HICN, a patient’s MBI is randomly generated and could change. Patients can request an MBI change, or CMS might change an MBI (for example, if the MBI is compromised). 

When a patient’s MBI changes, you’ll be able to use the new ID for all claims and eligibility inquiries as soon as it becomes effective, and you must use it for dates of service/eligibility request dates that are entirely on or after the effective date of the change. 

For claims or inquiries that overlap the active period of the old MBI, you could use either the old or the new MBI. You can find a patient’s current MBI by using Novitas Solutions’ MBI Lookup Tool available through the Novitasphere portal.

For more information on the transition to the new MBI, see the CMS website and CMS’ MLN Matters No. SE18006 Revised.

Last Updated On

July 25, 2018

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Ellen Terry

Project Manager, Client Services

(512) 370-1391

Ellen Terry has been writing, editing, and managing communication projects at TMA since 2000. She hails from Victoria, Texas; has a journalism degree from Texas State University; and loves to read great fiction. Ellen and her husband have two grown sons and a couple of cats.

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