In an effort to fight medical identity theft for people with Medicare, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019.
Beginning in April 2018, CMS will start mailing Medicare cards with new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs) to all Medicare recipients. The new MBIs will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Numbers for transactions like billing, eligibility status and claim status after a transition period.
Although Medicare is planning a massive outreach to Medicare beneficiaries concerning the new MBI, as with any change of this magnitude, there is going to be questions and confusion. To minimize the impact that this change may have on your residents or patients, it is imperative that you develop a winning strategy, now.
Prepare Your Residents or Patients
Although your residents or patients will not have to do anything in advance of receiving their new cards and Medicare will send notification of the change to all beneficiaries, you still have a unique opportunity to assist them with this transition.
Share education materials about the transition with the resident or patient, their family members and caregivers. gov has an assortment of flyers and handouts in seven different languages that can be ordered for you to share here.
Make certain that your residents or patients and their caregivers understand the reason behind the change and what they should expect. If there are home visits, find out if they have received any preliminary communication from Medicare concerning the change. If they have not received any communication, it could mean that Medicare does not have their correct address.
Warn patients or residents and caregivers about potential scammers who might attempt to take advantage of elderly clients by falsely presenting themselves as a representative of Medicare in an effort to obtain the client’s social security number or other personal information. Scammers might even attempt to charge them a fee for their new card. Make certain they know that their card will be sent automatically and not to give their personal information to anyone.
If home visits apply, ask patients if they have received their new card.
Assure your resident or patient and their family members that your organization can be used as a resource to answer any questions or address any concerns they might have.
Prepare Your Staff
Make certain that all of your office and field staff is knowledgeable about the change, specifically the following key points:
Medicare will mail new cards from April 2018 through April 2019.
Medicare benefits will not change, only the number.
The reason for the change is to help prevent identity theft; new cards won’t include Social Security numbers. Instead, each person will get a new unique Medicare number.
Medicare beneficiaries do not need to do anything to get a new card.
Medicare officials will never call and ask for personal information before sending new cards, so beneficiaries should not share their Medicare number or other personal information if someone calls and asks for it.
Make certain that your billing staff knows the transition time table and the fee for service claim exceptions.
Prepare Your Organization
Assign a point person to oversee all aspects of the transition.
Run an eligibility check on all of your Medicare eligible clients to verify that Medicare has the correct address in their records.
Develop a process to update the client’s medical record with the MBI.
Test your software to make certain that your software vendor and clearinghouse is ready by April 2018 to accept the new MBI for billing transactions and interactions with the MAC and still is able to continue to accept the HICN as well, throughout the transition.
Order or prepare handouts/flyers to distribute to all new and existing clients.
Display posters about the change throughout your facility.
Visit Medicare.gov for updates and learn what resources are available.
Without a doubt, this is the largest change that has ever taken place since Medicare was enacted in 1965. LTPAC providers are used to preparing for change. For this change, like any other major change, you should prepare for the worst and pray for the best. Planning ahead and being proactive with your residents or patients and staff within your organization will help ensure a smooth transition.