From SSN to MBI: Easing the Transition

The social security number (SSN) is a common form of identification. People are in the habit of providing the nine-digit number as a form of identification in all kinds of situations. Not surprisingly, health plans use the SSN to identify members.

This comfortable mainstay is about to vanquish from health plans that work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, according to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. Instead of relying on the tried-and-true SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), CMS will require Medicare beneficiaries to use new randomly generated, generic numbers (actually a series of numbers and letters) for identification purposes.

The Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN-HICN on new Medicare cards. The MBI will be used for transactions such as billing, eligibility, status and claims status. In April 2018, Medicare will start mailing the new Medicare cards with the MBI to beneficiaries. Between April 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019, either the SSN-HICN or the MBI can be used to exchange data. It is expected that beneficiaries will be required to use the MBI exclusively starting on January 1, 2020.

The change is intended to fight medical identity theft. With the more random MBI numbers, Medicare will be able to provide increased security. This will further protect beneficiaries’ private healthcare and financial information.

However, with all change comes some discomfort. To make the transition a less jarring one, health plans will need to take steps:

  • Update systems to accommodate the new numbering convention.
  • Realign databases to handle the transition from the long-used SSN to the new numbers.
  • Launch a communication program in place to ensure that members and providers are aware of the new numbers. Indeed, members are likely to experience some confusion, as they have been using social security numbers for many years – and will now need to memorize or keep in their possession a new identification number.

Convey Health Solutions can ease this transition. In addition to updating our database to accommodate the new numbers, we are working with health plans to help them update their systems as well and to empower them to communicate with providers and members regarding the change. For more information on our services, contact us at (954) 903-5000.

About Convey Health Solutions | Convey Health Solutions is a specialized healthcare technology and services company that is committed to providing clients with healthcare-specific, compliant member support solutions utilizing technology, engagement, and analytics. The company’s administrative solutions for government-sponsored health plans help to optimize member interactions, ensure compliance, and support end-to-end Medicare processes. By combining its best-in-class, built-for-purpose technology platforms with dedicated and flexible business process solutions, Convey Health Solutions creates better business results and better healthcare consumer experiences on behalf of business customers and partners. The company’s clients include some of the nation’s