The HICN is an 11-digit number that consists of alpha and numeric indicators.The standard health insurance claim number includes two parts: the claim account number (CAN) and beneficiary identification code (BIC). CAN is the social security number of the Medicare wage earner, and BIC identifies the current relationship between the person and the wage earner, usually a spouse.
A railroad Medicare beneficiary's health insurance claim number does not conform to the standard Medicare HICN format. The railroad Medicare card displays the alpha-prefix letters first and numbers last, while Social Security Medicare claim numbers include the social security number of the wage earner first and the letters last.
When a beneficiary's relationship to the primary account holder or wage earner changes, the health insurance claim number also changes. For example, codes may be updated to reflect changes that indicate the recipient has become a widow or widower. All prior health insurance claim numbers for Medicare recipients are electronically linked so a change in status should not cause a disruption in coverage or miscalculation of deductibles.
The Medicare program was signed into law on July 30, 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed up former President Harry Truman as the first Medicare beneficiary. Each Medicare beneficiary's card has an individual health insurance claim numbers (HICN) used to verify eligibility and coverage type.