Friday, June 30, 2017

SSNRI and What it Means for EMS Agency

What is SSNRI

SSNRI is the Social Security Number Removal Initiative. The Federal Government is mandating that all Social Security Numbers (SSNs) be removed from Medicare cards by April 2019.

SSNRI and What it Means for EMS Agency
A new number called the MBI- Medicare Beneficiary Number will replace the long-standing SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), which has been the standard used in the Medicare system since Medicare’s inception.

What effect?

The SSN-based HICN identifies people with Medicare and is used by these entities…
  • The Social Security Administration
  • The United States Railroad Retirement Board for Railroad Medicare
  • Some State Medicaids

And by extension, health care providers and suppliers and health insurance plans also use the information.

Everyone who is enrolled in Medicare will be assigned a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier and new Medicare cards will be sent out to patient beneficiaries across the United States.

The Feds tell us that replacing the SSN-based HICN on all Medicare cards will better protect Medicare beneficiaries from healthcare fraud and identity theft.

New Look!

Replacing the 9-digit and alpha character combination SSN-based HICN will be a 11-character number and uppercase letters combination identified.

Initially, your patients will probably be somewhat confused as the card will look different and not that easily remembered. Many patients now, especially senior patients, have their SSN committed to memory and simply remember the letter either preceding or following the SSN. The patient can rattle it off to you in the back of an ambulance fairly easily without.

Now a new number will be introduced requiring people to carry their cards and present to your staff in the field as we surmise most will not have the number committed to memory.

Timeline

The switch begins this coming April and runs through December 31, 2019.

The questions that many healthcare entities have are the usual concerns about confusion, computer-based claim processing systems not being configured properly resulting in denied claims and payment delays.

While this is definitely a distinct possibility, those of us in the billing industry tend to freak out about these things more than we should. We’re sure that the systems will catch-up in fairly good time.

Software Thoughts

However, what about our systems? The system that generate your ambulance claims and mine will need to be reconfigured. If you have a fairly robust software package, you most likely have a built-in template for the numbering configuration. That template must now be revised to accept more digits and different alpha-numeric combinations.

Plus, what will the cost be to update your systems?

I can tell you that our billing office here at Enhanced will be more than ready well before the new numbers begin to roll in. Of course, this is a huge benefit when outsourcing your billing to a reputable billing company that has the time, knowledge and resources to effect a change like this and never skip a beat.

Even the forms we use for paper billing will need to at least have a printer revise visited to be sure that the numbers fit into the correct fields, etc.

More importantly, whatever patient numbers you have in your system currently (for some patients most likely for years) will soon no longer be valid. You’ll slowly be re-tooling your database with these new numbers- extra data entry, additional pre-verification and related duties comes to mind when thinking about the transition.

Educational Considerations

It’s time to share this information with everyone in your EMS agency.

Your street providers need to know that soon, more than ever, they’ll need to be sure to collect information. Or, you may wish to visit with the administration persons in the facilities you serve and talk with them about their plans to re-configure their systems so registration reports and ER face sheets reflect the new numbers which you can later use when billing.

Of course, your billing office staff needs to be ready to go come April. Be sure they read, learn and understand and have a plan for the change that’s coming.

The Ambulance Billing Services blog is brought to you as a service by Enhanced Management Services, Inc.  Enhanced Management Services, Inc. is a full-service, all-EMS third-party billing contractor with Fire/EMS clients located across the United States.  For more information about how Enhanced can benefit your EMS agency, please visit our website at www.enhancedms.com and click on the “Get Started” button on any landing page.

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