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Don’t Use Social Security Numbers for Patient Identification

Don’t Use Social Security Numbers for Patient Identification

Personal identification numbers have been a big issue in medical billing in the current years. In the past, the use of social security numbers to identify patients in medical billing was completely acceptable. As a matter of fact, this was the norm. Now, with the increased risk of identity theft, the use of social security numbers in medical billing is taboo.

An eye opening experience happened in Colorado there was an unfortunate incident with member identification numbers used for medical billing. Kaiser Permanente Colorado made a human error and put the user identification numbers on the mailing label of a member magazine. This meant that anyone handling the magazine had access to the medical billing user identification numbers. Fortunately the Kaiser user identification numbers are different then social security numbers. Even so, this error was a breach in patient confidentiality.

In the case of Kaiser, the mailing label situation would have been much worse if social security numbers were used for medical billing. Social security numbers give dishonest people access to confidential information as well as financial information. The use of social security numbers for medical billing should be avoided at all costs.

If you were using a social security number to identify your patient for medical billing, a fraudulent person could do a lot of damage. They could call insurance companies and get personal information. They could also contact credit cards and get financial information. Once someone has your social security number, it becomes rather easy to find out confidential information.

Use this information to make the change in the way your practice identifies your patients, if you’re still using the old social security number method, initiate the change as quickly as possible to using a new numbering system; your patient’s personal security may depend on it.

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