Your employer needs your Social Security number. And of course the Internal Revenue Service needs your Social Security number. But do your doctors? What happens if you follow the advice of the Social Security Administration and refuse to give it to them?
The Yakima Heart Center will refuse to provide the cardiac care that could make the difference between life and death.
Aram Langhans, a 58-year-old Yakima, Washington resident, was already hooked up to a portable heart monitor Monday to check out his irregular heart rhythms when a nurse at the Heart Center sent him to a restroom with instructions to remove the monitor and leave the premises.
The conflict arose because Langhans saw his Social Security number printed on a patient information printout as he was checking in, and asked a records clerk to remove it.
The Langhans take identity theft protection very seriously since their nephew’s identity was stolen from a credit application and used to fraudulently obtain credit cards and cell phone accounts. It took him a year to clean up the mess.
There’s already a “significant amount of evidence showing ID theft cases originate in medical offices,” according to a spokesperson for the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
More than 350,000 records are known to have been exposed already this year because of data breaches originating in hospitals and medical practices, according to the Clearinghouse’s Chronology of Data Breaches.
The Social Security Administration recommends asking the following questions when anyone requests your Social Security number:
- What law requires that you divulge it?
- Why do you need it?
- How will it be used?
- How will it be protected?
- What happens if you refuse?