My favorite recently was going to doctor's office. Our local Blue
> Cross has just changed all the subscriber numbers from the Social
> Security number to some random number. I hand over the new card so the
> secretary can copy the new number down for her billing records. I tell
> her what a good idea this is, how it avoids identity theft. (I did
> skip my paranoia about the government checking out our medical
> records). She agrees, and then asks me for my Social Security number
> so they number my patient file. When I refuse, she got all huffy: How
> can I fill out this form? The doctor won't be able to see you! I
> suggested she make up a number, use that, or contact her supervisor
> because if I was refused service I would contact Social Security and
> they would have a nice discussion about legal uses of my SS number.
> Needless to say, they found some way around the system.
It would be a short discussion, resulting in the Social Security Administration telling the doctor's office that they were free to request your social security number and to refuse to give you service if you would not provide it.
No, they don't need it. Yes, they can ask for it. You're free to find another doctor, and they're free to find other patients.
The rules are different when dealing with a government agency, or when potentially taxable income is involved.
Jack Hamilton California
Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit. Francois VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld