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Your doctor's office Informative - Keep your children's ssn private

Review by Noneill on 2006-12-06
Took my kid to the doctor a couple of weeks ago for a minor illness. He has not been there for almost a year so they asked me to update his file. Receptionist hands me the clipboard and says "oh and we are going to need his social security number." I say "Oh?" She says "yes or the billing office will put the account on hold." I say "Well there not going to get it. There is no reason they need a minor's social security number." She says "ok." People don't let your medical providers coerce information from you that they don't need. I have been a medical biller for 20+ years and I know that there is no circumstance where a child's social security number is needed at the doctors office. Mom and/or Dad's ssn - yes, but not a minor's. So I guess my account is on hold....whatever that means.
Comments:20 Replies - Latest reply on 2007-04-25
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-12-06:
I am not sure who you have been billing for 20+ years but I will tell you that social security numbers are required for almost everything these days in my part of the country. Examples are: Medicaid, Medicare, coordinating benefits for government programs (like the Department of Mental Health,) programs funded by local tax dollars and the like. You are certainly within your right to decline to give the number, around here that would mean you have to bill your own insurance company and remit in cash at the time of service. It might also mean your child would not receive services from some agencies and medical facilities. Interestingly enough, it is actually within the Federal guideline that a social security number is NOT to be used as identification but in my experience that is universally ignored.
Posted by yoke on 2006-12-06:
The only ssn the dr's office needs to have is the person who has the insurance, that way the dr and the insurance can confirm coverage. There is no need to have the childs ssn. My kids dr's office asked for the same info and I declined to give it. They did not have a problem with that.
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-12-06:
I am not convinced that even the insured individual's SSN is required. I am sure they would love to have it, but in fact your insurance number should be enough. A couple of years back our BC/BS cards had to be reissued in the middle of the year because the base number printed on the card contained the SSN, and they were no longer allowed to do that.
By all rights, the Social Security Administration ought to be the only ones entitled to ask for your number.
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-12-06:
I am sick and tired of any business asks for my SSN, or my phone no., or my zip code, etc. It is none of these people's business whatsoever. However, I believe what amaniR said is correct.

Oh, and by the way, when I get asked for this info, I prefer to tell them "Don't have one." Gets me some great looks from them!
Posted by yoke on 2006-12-06:
On our military ID's there is both my husbands and our own ssn#'s on each one. It is very scary.
Posted by yoke on 2006-12-06:
Toys R US is great to ask for your phone number. I have been told by some cashiers that they can't continue the transaction without my phone number. I just tell them to use their own phone number or the stores number. I've gotten some funny looks.
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-12-06:
Yoke, I'm halfway tempted to tell them 1-800-get-lost.
Posted by rhondam718732 on 2006-12-06:
Excellent post! And right on. Until your child is working, collecting disability, survivor or insurance payouts,etc NO minor's social security # needs to be given to anyone for billing purposes...they can't l;egally be required to pay those expenses. The parents/guardians are required to pay for all medical/dental, etc services and I can't imagine a doctors' office that doesn't make us all sign that form. Also NOTE: Applying for a soc sec card for your child is VOLUNTARY per the social security website. Of course once you need it for the reasons I mentioned above or to open a bank acct, etc then you need one.
Posted by JRent on 2006-12-06:
IN ADDITION DO NOT EVER PUT YOUR SSN ON AN EMPLOYMENT 'APPLICATION' - they do not need this unless and until you are hired and collecting a paycheck. I know they will ask - do your self a favor just put a factituous (sp) one and correct when necessary. PLEASE LET YOUR CHILDREN WHO APPLY FOR JOBS KNOW THE SAME.
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-12-06:
Romulus; I understand what you are talking about and I think they are doing what the rest of the "corporate" world is doing and getting away with when ever they can. I also believe they take there lead from our own government. The only way to combat this action is not to spend your money there and encourage your friends not to either. I don't personally eat at Taco Bell because I don't like fast food. But if you use the "E-Coli" thing as a bit to get people not to eat there in the end they will bring prices even lower then the others.
Posted by glc on 2006-12-06:
JRent: I'm sure you meant well by advising job seekers not to give their SSN to prospective employers...but this was bad advice. Today, almost all employers will do a background check on a job applicant. If you give a fictitious SSN, you probably will not be called for a 2nd interview!
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-12-06:
It only happens because we let it! Try this site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_number
In the United States, a Social Security number (or SSN) is a 9 digit number issued to citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents under section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2). The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an agency of the federal government. Its primary purposes are to track individuals' Social Security benefits, and to track individuals for taxation purposes. In recent years the SSN has become a de facto national identification number.[citation needed] A social security number may be obtained by applying on Form SS–5, "Application for A Social Security Number Card" (see 20 C.F.R. sec. 422.103(b)[1].
[edit] Purpose and use
The original purpose of this number was to track individuals' accounts within the Social Security program. It has since come to be used as a "primary key" (a de facto national ID number) for individuals within the United States. Employee records, patient records, student records, and credit records are sometimes indexed by Social Security number. The U.S. military has used the Social Security number as an identification number for all service members since 1967.[citation needed]
Some people unfamiliar with the Social Security program may mistake the word "security" in the name to mean "security from physical harm". The word "security" in "Social Security" refers to the financial security of retired persons.[citation needed]
Contrary to popular belief, there is no law requiring a natural born US Citizen to apply for a Social Security number to live or work in the United States [citation needed]. Although some people do not have an SSN assigned to them, it is becoming ever increasingly difficult to engage in legitimate financial activities without one.[citation needed]
[edit] Federal taxpayer identification number
The Internal Revenue Code provides that "[t]he social security account number issued to an individual for purposes of section 205(c)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act shall, except as shall otherwise be specified under regulations of the Secretary [of the Treasury or his delegate], be used as the identifying number for such individual for purposes of this title." See 26 U.S.C. § 6109(d).
[edit] Identity Theft
The disclosure and processing of Social Security numbers is of major concern to many citizens and privacy advocates.[citation needed]
The SSN is frequently used by those involved in identity theft, since it is interconnected with so many other forms of identification, and because people asking for it treat it as an authenticator — it is generally required by financial institutions to set up bank accounts, credit cards, and obtain loans, partially because it is assumed that no one except the person to whom it was issued will know it.
A bill has been proposed that would make use of the social security number as identifiers in schools illegal.[citation needed] Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the United States has no national ID document, and that the social security card contains no biometric identifiers of any sort, making it essentially impossible to tell whether a person using a certain SSN is truly the person to whom it was issued without relying on some other means of documentation (which may itself have been falsely procured through use of the fraudulent SSN). Congress has proposed federal laws that will restrict the use of SSNs for identification and ban their use for a number of commercial purposes, e.g. rental applications[2].
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-12-06:
Consumers should be aware that the IRS never sends out unsolicited emails, and under no circumstances, requests credit card information or PIN numbers through email. Persons receiving emails that claim to be from the IRS should not attempt to visit any site contained within the email and should report suspicious emails to the IRS.
Posted by yoke on 2006-12-07:
Not sure if they still do this but when husband was active duty military in order to write a check on base you had to write the servicemenbers ss#, duty station (including phone number) and have your address and phone number all on the check. Servicemembers started complaining since all the vital information you would need for identity theft was right on the check.
Posted by Noneill on 2006-12-07:
Medicaid in CA and VA issues Id numbers that are NOT ssn. AmaniR please tell me what states are using ssn for medical insurance IDs. I would like to petition the officials of these states for change. To my knowledge only Medicare uses them while incorporating additional identifiers (prefix/suffixes). Medicare is generally for the elderly, so they would not be using a child's ssn. Rhondam - you make an excellent point. SSN are "voluntary". Would be hard to live without one, but still. I remember hearing about some guy who was being threatened by the school system (another entity that does NOT need your child's ssn) for not supplying his kid's number. There is absolutely no reason to give anyone your child's ssn until they turn 18 with the exception of the IRS and State tax board. And I believe even then only if you want to claim them as dependents.

As for employment applications I agree they should be left blank. If an interview is obtained one could explain that they prefer to keep it confidential until a job offer made and accepted. Background checks are not generally done for every applicant. Only the ones that get far enough into the process that it appears they may be hired. In my current position, the background check was done after I was hired and my employment was contingent on the outcome.
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-12-07:
Noneill writes: "AmaniR To my knowledge only Medicare uses them while incorporating additional identifiers (prefix/suffixes). Medicare is generally for the elderly"
Noneill haven't you ever billed for a claim that begins with Medicaid and crosses over to Medicare? Have you ever dealt with a social service agency or funding body that identifies children by their social security number and birthdate? If you had you would know you can't begin a Medicaid/Medicare claim without the social security number. Additionally you are wrong in your statement that Medicare is "generally for the elderly" - people with disabilities (yes that includes children and people who are not a bit elderly) also qualify for benefits.
Why you would advise people to withhold information that assists the medical office in obtaining health care benefits for a child is beyond me. Petition the feds if it bothers you that much, or file your own medical claims (and try not to give them a ssn, good luck to you.)
Posted by northworst on 2006-12-15:
Yoke, I don't know anymore but my husband and I were both active duty and I do remember having to write my SSN and address on checks on base - I never put 2 and 2 together! Anyways as far as the employment background check I believe that you have to give them a signed permission sheet for a prospective employer to do a background check don't you? I'm not sure but I don't think they can just run anyones background unless it specifically says they are going to on the application. Does anyone know this for sure?
Posted by Noneill on 2007-02-23:
It's been awhile, but I just came back to this subject.

AmaniR "Noneill haven't you ever billed for a claim that begins with Medicaid and crosses over to Medicare? Have you ever dealt with a social service agency or funding body that identifies children by their social security number and birthdate? If you had you would know you can't begin a Medicaid/Medicare claim without the social security number. Additionally you are wrong in your statement that Medicare is "generally for the elderly" - people with disabilities (yes that includes children and people who are not a bit elderly) also qualify for benefits.
Why you would advise people to withhold information that assists the medical office in obtaining health care benefits for a child is beyond me. Petition the feds if it bothers you that much, or file your own medical claims (and try not to give them a ssn, good luck to you.)"

You are confusing the process of an application for benefits with the use of those benefits. Yes to apply for Medicaid, Medicare, Insurance, Home loans, Credit, etc. a person has to provide a SSN. Taking a child to the doctor's office for medical care does not require that the doctor know the child's SSN. A child is a minor. What on Earth can a doctor's office do with a child's SSN? The answer is nothing. It is not needed and in my opinion it is an invasion of that child's privacy to ask for it. You say I am wrong about Medicare being generally for the elderly. I disagree. Do you understand the meaning of "generally"? It does not mean "exclusively". Surely you do not believe there are more disabled folks under 65 then the entire population of folks over 65?

Medical offices are not trying to obtain "benefits" for a patient. They are trying to obtain payment for a service. The "withholding" of information is because the information is UNNECESSARY. If you want to freely announce your child's ssn to people who don't need it, I can't stop you. But I am sure other folks who are concerned with protecting their privacy and the privacy of their children should know that just because uninformed office workers are asking for this sensitive information, doesn't mean it has to be given. As I originally posted, I told the office gal that I was not giving my child's ssn to them. Do you want to know what happened? Nothing. The office billed my insurance and the insurance paid the claim. Again, I am stating...a medical office does not need a child's ssn for any reason. The child's name and birthday is the only info needed along with the ADULT'S insurance card and ADULT'S information.

And lastly, the feds have nothing to do with the issue of a doctor's office or a school wanting the SSN of a minor child so thanks, but I don't see a need to petition them. I am not having any trouble getting our medical claims paid.
Posted by JRent on 2007-04-03:
RE: SSN - employment application - background check:
SERIOUSLY FOLKS, you must give anyone permission in writing before a background check is given! NEVER PUT YOUR SSN on an APPLICATION - Think identity thief. HR dept of any company has enough info on you (from your application) to begin there deception and no regulations can stop someone from ruining your identity. These days you MUST be very careful not to disclose your SSN for any reason whatsoever. Be warned!!!
Posted by Bizou on 2007-04-25:
Kenpopcorn do you have a job? You seem out of touch with the world today. I see your comments on multiple reviews and this is the first time I have visted this site.

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