Author Topic: patient social security numbers....  (Read 3153 times)

jennifer8055

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patient social security numbers....
« on: August 18, 2014, 11:00:42 AM »
 ??? Wondering if anyone else has had this issue.....

We had a patient in office today that refused to give us her social security number.  Patient stated that her insurance company advised her that she did not need to provider her social security number for any billing purposes.  We tried to explain to her that there are other reasons than billing that we need her social security number and she refused, to the point she stated that she would pay for visit out of her pocket.

Now, we need the social for (possible) turnover to collection agency, if the patient has a balance that is not paid.  The collection agency uses that social to verify any bankruptcy, employment for possible garnishments and/or skip trace patient if we have incorrect phone number and/or address.  Now, we also use ssn for verification through the state database for prescriptions filled.  If the provider wants to issue patient a prescription for a controlled substance, we have the right to check the database to make sure the patient is not just a drug seeker.

We can't be the only ones having this issue.......just curious.

Thanks!
Jennifer

shanbull

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Re: patient social security numbers....
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2014, 11:35:42 AM »
We collect that info for the same reasons, I've never had a patient refuse to provide it once we explained why it's needed. I guess if the Dr. is comfortable with this patient paying with cash it's the patient's choice, but some of our providers point blank would not agree to see a patient under such circumstances due to the risk of prescribing controlled substances without being able to check on our state database. It's one of those things where if the patient is that resistant, you get suspicious about why that might be. There's no smoke without a fire, as they say. It's ultimately the Dr.'s license/payment for services on the line, so the Dr. should make the call whether to see the patient or not.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 11:38:55 AM by shanbull »

jennifer8055

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Re: patient social security numbers....
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2014, 12:23:27 PM »
Thanks shanbull.  I didn't think we were wrong in anyway and figured someone else had the same issue before.  I know in these days of identity theft everyone is concerned about giving out personal information, for fear that someone will abuse that trust, but patients also need to understand there are other reasons that we need that information.

StephD

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Re: patient social security numbers....
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2014, 01:38:17 PM »
I will not give out my social security number to a medical provider's office.  It has never been an issue, but I haven't needed any prescriptions for controlled substances.  My son wanted my social when he went to a minor emergency clinic.  He is 23 and on my insurance.  I told him that his insurance card and driver's license are sufficient information along with my DOB.

PMRNC

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Re: patient social security numbers....
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2014, 03:17:28 PM »
Not so fast..
 The Privacy Act of 1974 requires all government agencies -- federal, state and local -- that request Social Security numbers to provide a "disclosure" statement on the form. The statement explains whether you are required to provide your SSN or if it's optional. It also explains how the SSN will be used. This disclosure should be given to the patient if SS is requested.  I am one of those that will NOT give out mine or my kids social security numbers to anyone. when my girls went to public schools I had this argument with them every year.. and every year I put N/A.   did you know that you don't even have to have a SS#? yes if you want to get a paycheck or file tax returns you need your social security number.

Even if you look at your SS card it tells you that this number is NOT to be used for identification purposes.

 
Linda Walker
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PMRNC

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Re: patient social security numbers....
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2014, 03:20:57 PM »
Quote
I will not give out my social security number to a medical provider's office.  It has never been an issue, but I haven't needed any prescriptions for controlled substances.  My son wanted my social when he went to a minor emergency clinic.  He is 23 and on my insurance.  I told him that his insurance card and driver's license are sufficient information along with my DOB.

My pharmacy does not have my SS #, neither do my doctors and I have received meds for controlled substances. SS #'s are NOT supposed to be used for identification and if your insurance company does not use the social security number for payment there is no reason involving healthcare that they need it.
Linda Walker
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shanbull

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Re: patient social security numbers....
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2014, 04:26:09 PM »
True, we can also accept the PMI # (state Medicaid insurance #) instead to look up patients in our state's system. But the eligibility verification through the state tells us the SSN anyway when we look up the patient if they have any type of Medicare. We have to have either one of the numbers plus the birthdate to look up the patient. And of course some people are residents but not citizens so do not have SSN at all.

kristin

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Re: patient social security numbers....
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2014, 08:41:43 PM »
My two cents....

We don't ask for SS#'s at my office, and haven't for years.(My boss refuses to give her's out at  doctor offices, so she won't ask for it from her patients, unless we can't bill a claim without it) Our collection agency does not need them, and unless the patient has Medicare, or some odd union insurance that still uses SS#'s, there is no other reason to get that number. The controlled substance website we use does not need them either. I am in Illinois, so it may be different for other states. We don't bill Medicaid, so that does not come into play.

For the remote billing I do, for providers in GA, PA, and FL, their new patient packets ask for SS#'s, but again, it is not necessary for the patient to provide it, and many don't, and it is not a problem. They all have Medicaid patients, and so long as they have the Medicaid number, they are fine. None of those states requires SS#'s in order to verify Medicaid benefits.

For me, personally, living in Illinois...I NEVER give my SS# to a doctor's office. They don't need it, I know they don't need it, and any reason they give me for supposedly needing it is shot down by me. Again, this could be a state to state thing, but I am fully aware that both collection agencies and the controlled substance website(neither of which has ever applied to me as a patient) in Illinois do not need that number, so I will not give it out. To bill my insurance they don't need it. I make sure before I see a new doctor that this will not be a problem, and if they insist on having that number, I find another doctor.

You may want to consider a few things, if this is an ongoing issue at your office...
1. Find a collection agency that doesn't require SS#'s in order to do their job.
2. Only take SS#'s from a patient who requires a controlled substance, in order to check the CS website in your state.
3. Only take SS#'s from patients where you absolutely need it in order to submit a claim(Medicare, and possibly other insurances, depending on the insurance)

Michele

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Re: patient social security numbers....
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2014, 07:51:55 AM »
Most of our providers ask for the SSN but the patient has the right to refuse.  Not one of them push the issue.  To be honest most do not need it for any reason, it just seems to be a standard question on the intake forms.  Collection agencies only need the SSN if they are going to report to the credit reporting agencies, at least that is what we were told by a collection agency.  From the billing aspect, we do not need them if we have current, accurate billing ids.  They are helpful if we do not have accurate info as many insurances allow you to search by SSN.
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PMRNC

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Re: patient social security numbers....
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2014, 08:55:35 AM »
Collection agencies, courts, and govt agencies don't need SS# to report to credit bureau's anymore. We use a few different ones and the slips we sign with the charges don't contain SS#'s.
Linda Walker
Practice Managers Resource & Networking Community
One Stop Resources, Education and Networking for Medical Billers
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