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Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI)

November 07, 2019

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 required the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) to remove SSNs from all Medicare cards by April 2019.

Instead of the previous SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), the new cards would contain what's known as a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The MBI replaces the HICN for transactions such as billing, and checks on eligibility and claim status. Starting January 1, 2020, even for services provided before this date, MBIs must be used.

While it isn't necessary to go into details about technical billing requirements, it is important for agencies to be aware of what the MBI cards look like, to get a copy of the card at the time of service, and to include the card along with all other applicable information, e.g. signature, insurance (and the SSN if it can be obtained).

An MBI is randomly generated for each beneficiary, is considered "non-intelligent" in that it has no hidden or implied meaning, and will have 11 characters, like the HICN. MBIs will consist of numbers (0-9) and upper case letters, save for S, L, O, I, B, and Z. These are being excluded in an attempt to improve the readability of the MBI.

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