Starting this month, your urgent care’s front desk staff will start seeing new Medicare cards from patients with Medicare. The goal is to remove Social Security Numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019 in an effort to better protect the personal information of Medicare recipients.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is sending new cards to all Medicare recipients between April 2018 and April 2019, which means your front desk staff will see both old and new Medicare cards for up to a year as CMS gets the new cards distributed. CMS is mailing the new cards in waves based on geographic location and other factors:

Wave

States Included

Cards Mailing

1

Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia

April-June 2018

2

Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon

April-June 2018

3

Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin

After June 2018

4

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

After June 2018

5

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina

After June 2018

6

Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

After June 2018

7

Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virgin Islands

After June 2018

Table Source: CMS.gov

Preparing for the New Medicare Cards

The major difference between the new and old cards is that the new cards will have new Medicare numbers that are unique to the patient instead of the patient’s Social Security Number. This will help better protect the patient’s personal information in the event the patient’s Medicare card is lost or stolen. If a patient has been issued the new card but forgets to bring it, your front desk staff can look up their new Medicare number online.

Patients’ Medicare benefits will not change with the updated Medicare cards. If a patient is in a Medicare Advantage Plan, such as an HMO or PPO, their Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is their main card for Medicare, but they should carry both cards just in case they need to show the new card as well.

CMS recommends that providers look at their practice management systems to determine what changes they need to make to use the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). Practice Velocity users will be able to accommodate the change without seeing a change to the practice management system. However, some things urgent care providers should think about to be ready for the change:

  • Train front desk staff to ask patients for their new Medicare cards.
  • Consider developing a front desk process to track patients who do not have their new cards with them. The process could include documenting the discussion the front desk staff member had with the patient and flagging the patient account to ask the patient again the next time they come.
  • Add real-time eligibility (RTE) software to your front desk process if you don’t already have it so your front desk staff can verify eligibility online with the Medicare contractor to streamline your front desk process.

Preparing your entire staff and having a strong process in place will ensure your patients will continue to have a great experience at your urgent care center.

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