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What’s the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI)?

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, requires us to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status. You can find more details in our 5/30/17 press release and latest Open Door Forum slides.

We currently use an SSN-based HICN to identify people with Medicare and administer the program. We’ve used the HICN with our business partners:

Under the new system, for each person enrolled in Medicare, we’ll:

  • Assign a new MBI
  • Send a new Medicare card

The MBI is confidential like the SSN and should be protected as Personally Identifiable Information.

Why is the SSNRI important?

The biggest reason we’re taking the SSN off of Medicare cards is to fight medical identity theft for people with Medicare.

By replacing the SSN-based HICN on all Medicare cards, we can better protect:

  • Private health care and financial information
  • Federal health care benefit and service payments

We’ve often heard from Congress, the General Accountability Office, people with Medicare, and advocacy groups that they want the SSN taken off Medicare cards.

What’s the SSNRI timeline & what does it mean for me?

Getting started

Moving to new Medicare numbers and cards requires a lot of changes to our systems and how we do business. The same is true for you — our business partners.

We’ve already started this work and want to help you shift to the new MBIs by April 2018. Beginning in April 2018, we’ll start sending the new Medicare cards with the MBI to all people with Medicare.

Learn, in English or Spanish, what you need to do now.

Systems testing

Will there be testing for systems that use the MBI?

We’re planning to test systems that’ll use the MBI, including enhanced integration testing (EIT) for new or high risk systems. We’re not offering end-to-end testing with Medicare fee-for-service claims processing systems because you’ll be able to use either HICNs or MBIs to submit claims during the transition period.

You can use the transition period as a live test and make adjustments as necessary, yet still have claims submitted and processed with HICNs until the transition period ends.

Transition period

We plan to have a transition period where you can use either the HICN or the MBI to exchange data with us. The transition period will begin no earlier than April 1, 2018 and run through December 31, 2019.

During the transition period, we’ll monitor the use of HICNs and MBIs to see how many of you are ready to use only MBIs by January 2020. We’ll also actively monitor the transition and adjustment to the new MBIs to make sure of their wide-spread adoption so Medicare operations aren’t interrupted.

Once the transition period’s over, you’ll still be able to use the HICN for:

  • Appeals If you’ve used the HICN on a claim, then you can use either the HICN or MBI for that claim’s appeals (and related forms).
  • Reports (we’ll use the HICN on these reports until further notice)
    • Incoming to CMS (quality reporting, Disproportionate Share Hospital data requests, etc.)
    • Outgoing from CMS (Provider Statistical & Reimbursement Report, Accountable Care Organization reports, etc.)
  • Span-date claims Use the HICN for 11X-Inpatient Hospital, 32X-Home Health, and 41X-Religious Non-Medical Health Care Institution claims if the “From Date” is before the end of the transition period (12/31/2019)
  • Adjustments Use the HICN when you originally submitted a HICN on the claim (Prescription Drug Event, Risk Adjustment and Encounter data, etc.)
  • Incoming information requests (inquiries, Medicare Secondary Payer information requests, Requests for Medical Documentation, etc.)
  • Incoming premium payments (Part A premiums, Part B premiums, Part D income related monthly adjustment amounts, etc.)

How will the MBI look?

The MBI will be:

  • Clearly different than the HICN and RRB number
  • 11-characters in length
  • Made up only of numbers and uppercase letters (no special characters)

Learn about and use our MBI format specifications to make changes to your systems.

Will the MBI’s characters have any meaning?

Each MBI is randomly generated and the characters are “non-intelligent,” which means they don’t have any hidden or special meaning.

What does the SSNRI mean for people with Medicare?

The MBI won’t change Medicare benefits. People with Medicare may start using their new Medicare cards and MBIs as soon as they get them.

Where can I get more information about the SSNRI?

Get our Open Door Forum materials:


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