Physicians need to apply now for a national provider identifier number in order to start using it in May 2007, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The national provider identifier (NPI) is a 10-digit number that does not expire or change; it is used to speed claims processing. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act mandates that the NPI be used for all standard health care transactions involving both public and private payers starting on May 23, 2007. Small health plans, defined as having annual receipts of $5 million or less, are given an additional year to comply.
A physician needs only one NPI, regardless of the number of specialties, licenses, or practice locations he or she may have. Once assigned to the physician, that number will stay with him or her through job changes and relocations.
Physicians will need to have several numbers on hand before applying, such as their health care license number or certificate number and any “legacy identifiers,” such as a unique physician identification number (UPIN).
Apply online for an NPI at https://NPPES.cms.hhs.gov