Ask the Expert

Is it against HIPAA regulations to print SSNs on an insurance card?

Is it against HIPAA regulations to print a patient's Social Security number (SSN) on a prescription card and or insurance card?

    Requires Free Membership to View

The use of Social Security numbers is a gray area of HIPAA, as well as with the majority of all the other regulations. Without digging into the hundreds of pages of the HIPAA legislation, a lot of it depends on what practices are disclosed to the client in the "Notice of Privacy Practices" document the patient signs. It will also depend on how the Social Security number is used. For example, printing the SSN on a bill that is mailed directly to the patient is usually acceptable. Printing it on a card, which presumably will be used and shown to other parties, isn't.

As opposed to focusing on the audit and specifically on whether something is compliant, I tend to favor using a good dose of common sense. For better or worse, the SSN is a major piece of data used to perpetrate identity theft. Thus, even though it may not be specifically against the regulation, it doesn't make a lot of business sense to use the SSN in that context. Using Social Security numbers indicates a general disdain for patient privacy, one that may result in customers or patients taking their business elsewhere.

More information:

This was first published in March 2008

There are Comments. Add yours.

TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
Sort by: OldestNewest

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: