Is a doctor’s office allowed to deny care if you don’t provide your SSN?

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Is a doctor’s office allowed to deny care if you don’t provide your SSN?

I returned to a doctor’s office where I have been seen 3 years ago and had to re-register. The clerk at the window stated that they needed my SSN. I asked why. She and then her co-worker/supervisor said, that I couldn’t be seen without first having provided it. I indicated that you aren’t required to give a SSN to be seen. She responded that it was an office policy Working for the federal government, I know if it’s a rule, policy or any mandate for any entity serving the public, policies are required to be written down so all recipients are treated equally and fairly and not discriminated. The clerk repeatedly stated that they didn’t have it in writing. They refused services to me because I didn’t give them my SSN. I know they have a right to demand it but do I not have a legal right to see the office policy before I provide the information? What retribution do I have as I took off work for my appointment and lost income and waited weeks to be seen because of health issues?

Asked on August 11, 2017 under Business Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You are looking at the situation from the wrong perspective: you seem to be assuming that you have a right to see any given or particular doctor, and therefore that they have to justify not seeing you. However, a doctor in private practice is not required to see any specific  or particular patient; like any other business (which is what the doctor's office is), they have the right to set any policies or requirements they want and to not see any patient who refuses to comply with their requirements. They have no obligation to see you; you have no inherent right to be seen by them. They also do not need to put their policies in writing or share them with you. You refused a reasonable request, one commonly used for billing and record keeping purposes; they therefore chose to not see you, as is their right.


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