The latest administrative simplification rule promulgated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) went into effect on May 23, 2005. The rule establishes the National Provider Identifier (NPI)and requires its use for HIPAA standardized transactions by May 23, 2007 (May 23, 2008, for small health plans).

This identifier will replace all other provider identifiers (including the Unique Physician Identification Numbers and provider identification numbers assigned by health plans) used in HIPAA standardized transactions. The rule standardizes transactions in that providers use one provider identification number to conduct health care transactions such as filing claims and checking claims status electronically.

You may apply for the NPI in one of three ways:

Beginning in fall 2005, a hospital or other health care organization may apply on behalf of its employees. Since CMS hopes to avoid duplicate applications, check with your employer before applying for an NPI on your...

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