It’s going to take a year for the whole batch to be in place, but your front desk staff will start seeing new Medicare cards this month. As we told you when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services first announced its plans, every Medicare member will be issued a unique ID number to replace their Social Security number on the cards to better protect all manner of personal information tied to the SSN. Patients’ Medicare benefits are not changing; for a patient in a Medicare Advantage Plan (eg, an HMO or PPO), the Medicare Advantage Plan ID card will be the main card for Medicare, but they’re being advised to carry both cards. For urgent care operators and other providers, CMS recommends taking a close look at your practice management system to see what changes may be needed to use the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). Practice Velocity, which was recently named the Category Leader in urgent care EMR services by the research organization KLAS for the fourth year in a row, is recommending that urgent care providers take a few essential steps to ensure your operation is ready to transition to the new system without any hiccups:
• Train front desk staff to ask patients for their new Medicare cards.
• Consider developing a front desk process to track patients that do not have their new cards with them. That might include documenting the discussion the front desk staff member has with the patient and flagging the account to ask the patient again at the next visit.
• Add real-time eligibility software to your front desk process if you don’t already have it so staff can verify eligibility online with the Medicare contractor.
CMS is sending new cards to Medicare members in Alaska, American Samoa, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Maryland, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia between now and June. All Medicare members should have them by April 2019.