Do I Have to Share my SSN with my Doctor?
Jackie here. We’ve advised you not to share your Social Security number unless absolutely necessary, but the tricky part is knowing when you must share and when you can say no, especially when you head to the doctor’s office. There is often a space on their forms for a SSN. Do they really need it? Here’s what you need to know about sharing your Social Security number when you go to the doctor.
Does My Doctor Need My SSN?
There is no simple answer to the question, “Does my doctor need my SSN?” It really depends on your insurance. Some insurers use the SSN as an identifier. If your doctor doesn’t have yours, they won’t get paid. Does your insurance company need a SSN to pay claims? Call and ask to find out. If you have Medicare, a SSN is almost always needed. Other insurance companies including Medicaid, TRICARE, and CHIP used to use SSNs for patient identification, but have transitioned to a different system. If you have an old card that uses your SSN, call and ask for a new one.
How to Say No to Sharing Your SSN
If your insurance company doesn’t require an SSN, you can likely refuse to provide it at the doctor’s office. Be kind, but firm in your refusal. Remember, you can refuse, but they can also refuse to provide service. Staying calm will lead to better results than getting angry or frustrated. Try these tips:
Ask Questions– Before providing your SSN, find out how it will be used. Ask questions about why it is needed, how it will be protected, what happens if you refuse, and what your other options are.
Offer Alternatives– If a doctor’s office wants your SSN to get in touch should billing problems arise, offer alternatives like an email address or a cell phone number. Try to avoid providing things like your driver’s license number, as this too can be used to commit ID theft.
Find a Different Doctor– If your doctor insists and you really don’t want to provide your SSN, find a different provider. Unless your insurer requires your SSN for billing, you shouldn’t have to share it with your doctor.
It’s important to know when you are required to share personal medical information and when are may have another option. This will help you keep your information safer from medical identity theft. Find more tips from Consumer Reports here.