During some Medicare sales appointments, you may meet with a client who wants to enroll in a plan but doesn’t have their Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). Fortunately, there are ways you can help them get their MBI or look it up.
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As of January 1, 2020, the MBI is the only identifier agents and clients can put on Medicare applications. In April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began mailing out new Medicare cards, with this brand-new identifier, to phase out the old HICN (health insurance claim number) identifier. CMS transitioned to the MBI, made up of randomly generated numbers and uppercase letters, to help protect Medicare enrollees against fraud and identity theft. (HICNs were based off of enrollees’ Social Security numbers.) They reported that all new Medicare cards were distributed as of mid-January 2019.
While it sounds like getting MBIs should be as easy as looking at your clients’ new Medicare cards, you may find that newly-eligible-for-Medicare clients don’t yet have this card or that already-eligible-for-Medicare clients have lost it. There was a transition period during which agents could look up MBIs by inputting clients’ old HICNs into MyMedicare.gov; however, this transition period ended on January 1, 2020. Additionally, CMS changed MyMedicare.gov to Medicare.gov in March 2021. If you have a client who doesn’t know their MBI, here’s how you can help them find it.
Ask the Client to Log in to SSA.gov
Has your client registered for their free account on the Social Security Administration’s website, SSA.gov? If they have an account, they can find their MBI by logging in. If they don’t have an account, they can always create one! Once they log in, they simply have to go to Get a Benefit Verification Letter and then go to the Medicare information section to see their MBI.
Once they log in, they simply have to go to ‘Get a Benefit Verification Letter’ and then go to the Medicare information section to see their MBI.
Note: You cannot create an SSA.gov account for your client. The Social Security Administration has strict rules related to creating an account on their site which state that, “You cannot create an account on behalf of another person or using another person’s information or identity, even if you have that person’s written permission.” This includes people with which the person attempting to create an account has a business relationship. If you break these rules, you could be subject to criminal or civil penalties, or both.
Call 1-800-MEDICARE with the Client
Another way you should be able to find out a client’s MBI is to call 1-800-MEDICARE with the client. If you’re with the client, you can do this via putting a single phone on speakerphone; if you’re remote, you can always set up a three-way conference call, with the client and Medicare.
You can do this via speakerphone with your client present or by setting up a three-way conference call, with the client and Medicare.
Agents report that, sometimes, they end up speaking to two Medicare representatives during this call. The first rep confirms who they’re speaking with (you and your client), and the second rep provides you both with the MBI. If you encounter trouble with getting a client’s MBI from the first person you speak with, try asking to speak with a level two rep.
Ask the Carrier If They Can Help
Some insurance carriers will actually help agents and clients get MBIs. You may have received communication from your carriers about this service already. If you haven’t, it never hurts to call or email and ask!
It never hurts to ask a carrier if they’ll help, but remember, carriers have set office hours.
We recommend attempting to locate the MBI via SSA.gov or calling 1-800-MEDICARE before going with this option. The first two methods are available 24/7, and often provide you and your client with an answer fast. Carriers usually have set office hours, so it can take them longer to get an MBI.
Ask the Client to Log in to Medicare.gov
Has your client previously registered with Medicare.gov? If so, they can find their MBI by logging in to their account with the site. They can even print or order a new Medicare card via this portal!
Clients already registered with the site can find their MBI this way, and even get a new Medicare card!
Note: This method will not work for new-to-Medicare enrollees because they need their MBI to create a Medicare.gov account.
Ideally, the Medicare-eligible clients you meet with should already have their Medicare cards, making locating MBIs easy. However, if you have clients who are ready to sign up for a Medicare plan, but don’t have their Medicare card handy, fear not! Try one of the ways to find MBIs above and help them get the Medicare coverage they want and need when they need it.