CMS to Mask Health Insurance Claim Number and Social Security Number on Contractor Correspondence Starting April 2019

By Mark Popolizio  |  February 25, 2019

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a reminder notice that starting April 1, 2019, its Coordination of Benefits and Recovery Program (COB&R) program will mask the social security number (SSN) and the SSN-portion of the health insurance claim number (HICN) on all ongoing letters. This change is being under the SSN Fraud Prevention Act of 2017.

CMS provides the following information in relation to this upcoming change:

The first five digits of the SSN will be masked with asterisks (e.g., *****1234A). All outgoing hardcopy and electronic letters will be included in this change. Note that the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier, which is not SSN-based, will not be impacted by this change and will continue to appear in full.

As part of this change, parties should expect to see the above referenced masked notations on conditional payment correspondence issued by the Benefits Coordination and Recovery Center (BCRC) and Commercial Repayment Center (CRC) starting this April. 

This change will not impact the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) number. The MBI number is the new, unique, 11-byte number that has replaced the SSN-based Medicare identifier pursuant to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. This law requires CMS to discontinue all SSN-based Medicare identifiers and reissue all new Medicare cards with MBIs by April 2019. CMS started reissuing the cards last spring and recently announced it had finalized distribution of the new cards ahead of schedule. Click here for our breakdown on CMS’s MBI initiative in our new Medicare trends report.

On another note, this update should have no impact on the Workers’ Compensation Review Contractor’s (WCRC) activities as the WCRC has already been masking the HICN for several years in its communications about workers’ compensation Medicare set-asides.

If you have any questions, please contact Mark Popolizio at mpopolizio@verisk.com or Shawn Deane at sdeane@verisk.com.


Mark Popolizio

Mark Popolizio is the Vice President of MSP Compliance and Policy for ISO Claims Partners. Mark’s area of specialty is Medicare secondary payer compliance. He authors regular articles and provides educational presentations across the country on MSP issues. Mark's e-mail address is mpopolizio@iso.com.