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Weekly RCM Tip: Are You Ready to Accept the New Medicare Beneficiary Cards?

April 09, 2018

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Healthcare providers have until January 1, 2020 to fully transition to using the new CMS Medical Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) card, but they can’t afford to wait until then to consider the changes the new cards will have on the way they do business with Medicare.

CMS started rolling out the new cards this April to meet the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. The new cards replace the patient’s social security number with a randomly chosen Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), an 11-digit combination of numbers and upper-case alphabet letters.

CMS is allowing a 21-month transition period during which they will recognize both identification numbers, but healthcare providers will be wise to start testing their resources now. Providers should examine their patient billing systems to ensure they will accept the new number format. The new MBI is a requirement for all business transactions with Medicare. This includes billing, claim status, and eligibility inquiries.

Don’t forget to check with your clearinghouse and software vendors to confirm they can accept the new numbers and transmit with them. Some software programs were hard-wired to accept 10 digits, so you’ll want to know sooner rather than later whether they can transmit with the new 11-digit numbers.

Prep your front and back end staff on the significant change to make sure you still get Medicare claims paid after the transition. Your front-end staff needs to know how to use the new number in their daily processes to ensure they accurately capture patient information. Patient registration errors account for almost 40% of insurance denials and it costs hospitals $25 to re-work a denied claim, so stay on top of the changes by creating training materials and having mandatory staff meetings so everyone knows the importance of the new MBI card format.

Your staff will not only have to familiarize themselves with new procedures for using the MBI card, but they will likely have to assist patients with questions about the new card as well. This a great opportunity to differentiate your healthcare organization from others by providing an exceptional patient experience from scheduling through billing and final payment.

Patients are receiving the new cards in the mail through April 2019. Be proactive and keep ahead of this important CMS change without stalling your revenue cycle.


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