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No Social Security Number, No Doctor Care. Seriously?

A friend and colleague from Michigan wrote to me, upset that after falling and twisting her ankle, an ortho she had visited previously insisted she turn over her social security number before he would see her.

I was floored.

My friend was upset, and I understand why. She has been the victim of identity theft in the past, and in her mind, by writing down her SSN on a piece of paper to be turned over to the receptionist and then have it go gawd-knows-where would only set her up to have her identity stolen again.

This made no sense to me - that she would be refused care without divulging this very personal piece of information. And then I learned much more.

I googled the question - Why would a doctor require a social security number? Not much information available, except some guesses that it would help them collect bad debts. Then I tweeted, asking my followers the same question. The reply came from American Medical News, a publication of the American Medical Association.

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