New Medicare Cards are in Process

February 21, 2017

In 2015, the U.S. Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The act requires that all Social Security Numbers (SSN) be removed from all Medicare cards by April of 2019.

A Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim number (HICN) that is being used on the current Medicare cards. This MBI will be on all of the new cards and will be used for all Medicare transactions such as billing, eligibility status and claims.

The new MBI will be 11 characters in length and will consist of only numbers and upper case letters with the exclusion of the letters S, L, O, I, B, and Z. No symbols or special characters will be used. It will be unique to each beneficiary and will not contain a Social Security Number or any personal information. Gender and signature lines will also be removed from the new cards.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have begun this transition and will be shifting to the use of MBI’s by April of 2018. New cards will be issued beginning on April 1, 2018 and completed by April 2019. As there are approximately 60 million Medicare beneficiaries, the CMS will be issuing the cards in phases over the allotted year. In addition, a grace period will be in effect through December 31, 2019.

This switch does not change any Medicare benefits. It was instituted as a security measure to better protect your personal health care and financial information in this era of cybercrime.

Please remember that CMS, Social Security and Medicare will never contact you by email or phone to ask you for personal information. They conduct business by letter and regular mail. CMS does have an email communication service, but you must sign up to receive information.

There is no charge for the new cards, so any contact you may receive asking for payment is a scam. There should never be any request for your banking or credit card information.

If you do receive a call or email you believe to be a scam, contact the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) National Fraud Hotline at 1-800-447-8477 or go to


Sources:; What’s the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI)?/ CMS Open Door Initiative, 11-1-2016; SSNRI-ODF-slides-11-1-16.