Health & Fit: If the Doctor Asks for Your Social Security Number, Do This - Health Insurance warns against a new scam - PressFrom - US

Health & Fit If the Doctor Asks for Your Social Security Number, Do This

01:05  12 october  2019
01:05  12 october  2019 Source:

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Social Security numbers should be kept as private as possible. Consumer Reports tells you how to protect your privacy and still get treatment. But what if you’ve tried to keep your Social Security number out of your doctor ’s hands—by leaving any space for your Social on medical forms blank

Your personal data may be safer on your computer than at your doctor ’s office. Health care providers — not hackers — are responsible for the majority of data breaches regarding personal health information, a new study from Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University found.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

a woman sitting at a table using a laptop © Provided by Consumers Union of United States, Inc.

You’re filling out forms at a doctor’s office, hospital, or other health care facility and come to a line asking for your Social Security number.

Should you write those nine digits down?

Generally, no, say privacy experts. “Having Social Security numbers at the doctor’s office is a data breach risk, and it’s one that’s increasing,” says Pam Dixon, executive director of the nonprofit World Privacy Forum.

If stolen, your SSN offers thieves easy access your personal health and financial information, and they could possibly steal your identity.

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Learn why doctors and hospitals ask for your Social Security number , plus find out why you're not required to provide it (but may still want to). Most healthcare providers will ask you for your Social Security number when you are seeking medical care. They often require this so that they can collect

In the wake of the massive Anthem Healthcare security breach earlier this year, when hackers grabbed the personal information of some 80 million Americans, you may be more hesitant about giving

This makes SSNs much sought-after commodities on the black market. In fact, the 2018 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research, found that for the first time, more SSNs than credit card numbers were stolen last year.

And sensitive information like Social Security numbers is taken in more than 70 percent of hospital data breaches, according to a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Plus, for the most part—there are a few exceptions—health care providers don’t really need your SSN, though some may want it to track you down if billing issues arise.  

“So, when my health care provider asks for my Social Security number, I leave the line blank and recommend other patients do so as well," says Dena B. Mendelsohn, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports.

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So if our Social Security numbers are such hot property, why do doctors routinely ask for them? The answer isn’t particularly endearing: Your doctor ’s Still, most health care providers request your SSN for transactions. Nunnikhoven suggests asking what other form of identification the doctor ’s office

What To Do If Your Doctor Asks For Your Social Security Number . Why you shouldn’t give your doctor your Social Security number . Medical providers have access to a significant amount of personal information that, in the wrong hands, could compromise your identity and your credit.

But what if a health care provider, doctor’s office receptionist, office manager, or hospital employee insists? Here’s our advice.

Know the Law

Generally, you're under no obligation to provide your SSN to health care providers (but they’re not obligated to take you as a patient either). Health insurers will likely ask for it, and you do have to offer it up if you’re entering a VA hospital.

And as of last April, the rollout of the new non-SSN Medicare ID cards was completed. Medicare IDs cards used to include Social Security numbers, but now have an 11-character Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), that’s a mix of letters and numbers.

If you use Medicare, you have to share your MBI with health care providers. According to Medicare, you need to protect the new card as you would a credit card, giving the number only "to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurer, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf." (And watch out for phone, mail, and internet scams that request your MBI.) 

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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 companies do have a right to ask for your Social Security number , whether you get insurance through your employer or you bought

Doctor 's offices aren't the first place you'd think of for a data breach, but that doesn't mean they're immune. If a medical professional's office asks When someone gets your social security number , it's a pain to get your life back in order. Doctors ' offices usually ask for it so they can track you down

Note that until the end of 2019, health care providers can use either new Medicare IDs or the old ones to communicate with or seek payment from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). After that, there are a few limited exceptions for use of the older Medicare cards. 

How to Just Say No

If you're asked to provide your SSN—and simply leaving the space blank doesn’t get you a pass—politely push back.

You can also express your concern, noting that you’re hesitant to share your Social Security number because you’re worried about identity theft. And ask why the health care facility requires the number, suggests Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a nonprofit group that helps fraud victims.

"When I encountered this problem and asked why they needed it, the receptionist said 'we don't need it, we just haven't changed the form,''' she says. "So some of it is just an organizational failure."

In some cases, your health care provider may say they need your Social Security number simply because they have a field in their computerized medical records that must be filled in. The solution? Ask them to use zeros.

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Your Social Security Number ( SSN ) is the link between you and your Social Security information. It makes sure there is an accurate record of your wages and any Often times doctors and dentists, supermarkets, drugstores, preschools, and even airlines may ask for your personal information.

If someone asks for your number , you should ask why, how it will be used, and what will happen if you refuse. Make sure you give your employer So I guess we are stuck with possibility of someone working in a doctor ’s office from copying down the numbers , etc. Social Security shouldn’t preach

If you’re told it’s so they can track you down in case of billing problems, offer an alternative, such as your cell phone. But Dixon cautions about sharing other information, like your driver’s license. “You want to keep as many of the numbers that define you out of circulation,” she says.

Quiz the staff on their security practices and repeat your concerns to the doctor if you still don't get satisfaction. "If your provider or their front desk staff insists on using your Social Security number, ask them why and how they will protect that information," says Mendelsohn.

You can't be sure your health care provider's security practices are sufficiently robust. Research published this year in JAMA Internal Medicine, which looked at the causes of 1,138 breaches of protected health information, found that 53 percent were “attributable to the health care entities’ own mistakes or neglect,” according to the authors.

Finally, consider moving on, "If the answer you get is not satisfactory, you may ask yourself whether this is the right provider for you," Mendelsohn says.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. 

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A Social Security number ( SSN ) is a nine-digit number that the U.S. government issues to all U.S Your doctor ’s office and other businesses can use other information to identify you and keep track of Many businesses will ask for your Social Security number simply because it’s a convenient way for

Every time you go to a new doctor or dentist and they give you a clipboard brimming with documents to fill out and sign, notice how they always ask for your Social Security number ? Do you dutifully give it up? Did you ever wonder if they really need it? I once asked a doctor why he wanted it.

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a close up of a hand: Think of your happiest relationships, and there’s a good chance each one requires open communication, honesty and trust. That goes for you and your doctor, too. Lie out of embarrassment, and she can’t treat you. Show up unshowered to a doctor visit, and she won’t want to. Ghost her too many times, and a break-up is inevitable.Be a better partner and you’ll get better healthcare.To uncover what to do—and what not to do—at the doctor’s office, The Remedy talked to the country’s top docs, and scoured the web’s top sources (for advice from the pros, as well as good old-fashioned gossip, too), to find the #1 things medical professionals say you should avoid at a doctor visit. Read on. Your life depends on it.

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