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Why you shouldn't give your doctor your Social Security number ???

2-20-15 National:

You’re filling out a pile of forms at the local hospital or when seeing a physician. You jot down your name, address, and insurance information. Then you come to a space for your Social Security number. Should you fill in those precious nine digits?

If it’s your doctor or hospital asking, the answer is “No!” But it’s not so simple if you have Medicare or the question comes from your health insurance company. Here’s what you need to know.

Health care providers: Just say no

Doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers may want your Social Security number to help with debt collection in the case of a problem with your insurance company or an unpaid copay. But you’re under no obligation to hand over that information.

“There’s really no reason to give your doctor or hospital your Social Security number,” says Consumer Reports medical adviser Orly Avitzur, M.B.A., M.D., whose office stopped asking patients for their numbers about three years ago. “Insurers have your unique subscriber number and that’s what we use to submit claims.”

And there’s good reason to keep your Social Security number away from health care providers, says Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego.

Giving up your Social Security number, which Stephens likens to the “keys to the kingdom,” can easily compromise your privacy and security if your medical records are stolen, as in the case of the recent hack of the health insurance companies of Anthem, Inc.

“Both small and large providers may not have adequate security protocols to protect it,” he says. “And in the medical area you have a double whammy—medically sensitive and financially sensitive information.” ..Continued.. by Consumer Reports

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