The Medicare Health Insurance Claim (HIC) number is a patient’s unique identification code on his or her Medicare card. The current system for assigning HIC numbers was adopted in 1990, and follows a proscribed method that eliminates duplication. It is a nine-digit social security number plus a one or two-position suffix identifier.
The social security number (SSN) is the nine-digit code assigned to the wage earner under whose benefits the eligible person is receiving Medicare. For example, a non-working wife will be assigned an HIC number that contains her wage earning husband’s SSN. However, if the wife is collecting Medicare benefits under her own earnings, then her HIC reflects her personal nine-digit SSN.
Each HIC number has an additional suffix made up of a letter or a letter and a number. This suffix is the Beneficiary Identification Code (BIC) and stores the relationship between the beneficiary and the primary social security number.
For example, a social security number followed by an A simply indicates the holder is a retired worker or disabled worker. A B suffix indicates a wife (over 65) of the primary social security number. A B1 indicates a husband of a retired wage earner. A C suffix indicates a child or grandchild of a retiree, or a disabled child and/or student. The D suffix indicates widow/widower, and an E suffix signifies a widowed mother. Additional numerical digits provide more detailed relationship information.
Medicare HIC numbers may change if the relationship to the wage earner changes. For example, if the wife becomes a widow of the wage earner, the letter code will be changed to reflect this status.