The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking steps to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards in an effort to prevent fraud, fight identity theft and protect essential program funding and the private health care and financial information of beneficiaries.

CMS plans to issue new Medicare cards with a new unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) both on the cards and in various CMS systems. New cards will be mailed out to beneficiaries in April 2018, with all cards replaced by April 2019. There will be a 21-month transition period in which all health care providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN for billing purposes.

CMS is offering five steps to help offices and health care facilities get ready for the change:

  1. Go to the provider website and sign up for the weekly MLN Connects® newsletter.
  2. Attend CMS’ quarterly calls to get more information. CMS will list scheduled calls in the MLN Connects newsletter.
  3. Verify all of your Medicare patients’ addresses. If the addresses on file is different than the Medicare address on electronic eligibility transactions, ask patients to contact Social Security and update their Medicare records.
  4. Work with CMS to help Medicare patients adjust to their new Medicare card. When available later this fall, display helpful information about the new Medicare cards. Hang posters about the change in offices to help spread the word.
  5. Test system changes and work with billing office staff to be sure your office is ready to use the new MBI format.

For more information, visit