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Four Things Your Doctor Doesn’t Need to Know

A recent Merritt Hawkins survey of 15 major metropolitan areas found the average patient waits 18.5 days to see the doctor. In some cities like Boston, patients wait more than three times as long — 66 days — just to see a family practitioner.

Wait periods in America, though slightly shorter now than in 2009 (20 days), are leaving patients desperate and frustrated. They will do or say almost anything to get a better spot in line, and that includes divulging unnecessary information to doctors and receptionists thinking it will shorten their path to an appointment.

Another disconcerting trend in America is protection of our private data. Many are turning to outside providers to keep their identity protected or even avoiding online activity altogether. Know your rights when making an appointment with your doctor and keep these four pieces of information to yourself.

Email Address

It seems like a harmless piece of information, but allowing your doctor to communicate with you via email leaves you vulnerable to eavesdroppers who will have a front row seat to your private medical information if they gain access to your email. Your patient forms will have a spot for an email address, but say no to the convenience and leave it blank. Ask your doctor if he or she has a secure online portal to access data if you really want the online access.

Financial Information (Not for Payments)

A doctor’s office should never keep a credit card number on file for any reason. If you are asked to give this information, decline. If you are asked to write a driver’s license number on a check in case the payment bounces, that’s fine. Checks are finite sources that eventually get handed over to the bank. Saved card numbers, however, are vulnerable to theft in case of a breach.

Social Security Number

There was a time when your SS number was also your healthcare ID (and for Medicare patients, this is and will be the case for some time), but now healthcare providers assign a unique ID to their policyholders. Doctor’s office forms will still have the “social security number” line on the page because they’re either not updated or the office still thinks they need it, but they don’t.

Family Members’ Social Security Numbers

This goes double for your children. Minors’ SS numbers are a prime target for identity thieves because the victim won’t likely access their profile until they turn 17. By the time that happens, it’s too late. Just like your own SS isn’t tied to your healthcare ID, the same goes for your children or any other family member. No matter how much administrators or doctor insists they need this, do not budge.

Nine out of 10 doctors will have no problem with any of these requests. But for the few that do, remember that these are your rights and the Hippocratic Oath requires them to ensure your safety, both medically and otherwise. So politely stand up for what you know you’re entitled to keep to your own self.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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