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Network Matters
News and Information for the
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Network

December 2017

New Medicare Beneficiary Identifier Coming in 2018


The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act mandates the removal of social security numbers (SSN) from all government-issued Medicare cards by April 2019. As a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) with a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) on Medicare cards. This change is being made to protect members against identity theft.

CMS will start mailing out new Medicare cards beginning in April 2018, and health plans and providers that offer care to Medicare members will have a transition period between April 2018 and Dec. 31, 2019, during which either the HICN or the MBI can be used. After Dec. 31, 2019, however, only the MBI should be used. As Harvard Pilgrim’s ID cards do not include members’ SSNs, we will not be mailing out replacement Harvard Pilgrim ID cards to our Medicare members.

Harvard Pilgrim is working with CMS to ensure that our systems will accept either the HICN and MBI for claims processing and other business purposes during the transition period. The new MBIs will be 11 characters long, comprised of a combination of letters and numbers. MBIs will be unique to each beneficiary and will occupy the same field as the HICN on transactions.

For more information about this mandate and the new Medicare cards, please refer to CMS’ “New Medicare cards” webpage.

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