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Am I required to provide my social security number to obtain health insurance?


originally published 8/11/2012, revised 1/29/2016

Our guest asks:

Am I required to provide my social security number to obtain health insurance?

OnlineAdviser responds:

Yes, except for the few limited circumstances covered in another Q&A article titled "Health insurance without a social security number". All health insurance companies and their enrollers, both private and governmental, online and offline, require a social security number or ITIN on the insurance application., an insurance exchange run by the federal Department of Health and Human Services that oversees Medicare and Medicaid plans, normally requires that health insurance companies collect Social Security numbers of covered members. This web page lists alternative information that can be used when applying for coverage without a social security number. Additionally, the Department of Treasury's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that insurance companies report the social security number with insurance claim payments. In 2010, the passage of the Affordable Care Act further expanded the role of social security numbers in the private health insurance system in the implementation of health insurance exchanges expected to launch in late 2013. More information on this topic of safety and privacy is available on the Web site.

When online health insurance became popular in the 1990s many individuals had concerns over providing their social security numbers online. Since then the passage of Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) expanded privacy and electronic security provisions to the point where online enrollment of health insurance can be considered to be among the safest type of financial transactions.

Keep in mind that you should only provide your social security number on a secure online enrollment form (all of the enrollment sites for the plans listed at Freedom Benefits as secure sites) and never give your social security number to someone by telephone. Also, do not provide your social security number until the point when you are actually applying for coverage; a social security number is never required to provide a quote on any legitimate online health insurance exchange. Online enrollment has proven to be much safer than paper form enrollments, so now we also advise against using paper enrollment forms.

Since our launch in 1997, and through the processing of hundred of thousands of online insurance enrollments with dozens of insurance plans nationwide, Freedom Benefits has never had an incident where the privacy or security of a member was compromised through the release of a social security number in an online enrollment transaction.

OnlineNavigator warns consumers about the risks of providing a social security number to by telephone due to an increase in the number of consumer complaints about telephone call centers that sell health insurance since 2010. Freedom Benefits will never ask for your social security number by telephone.

Other resources:

Am I required to provide a social security number to obtain health insurance

Health insurance without a social security number

Dental insurance for an undocumented immigrant

Dental insurance without a social security number

Inbound Immigrant medical insurance

Requirement to provide a social security number when applying for health insurance in the U.S.

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OnlineAdviser and OnlineNavigator services respond to consumer questions in a range of published media. Effective July 1, 2012 all questions about health insurance are governed by the terms and conditions of and other consumer finance questions are handled through although the two services may otherwise be referred to interchangeably in this Web site and other publications. Selected questions and responses related to health insurance are republished here to help others with the same issues. Privacy is protected; personal information is removed prior to publication. These services are provided without charge on a best-efforts basis.

Have a consumer finance or health insurance question? Ask OnlineAdviser or OnlineNavigator for a fast professional response.

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This web site is independently owned and managed by Tony Novak operating under the trademarks "Freedom Benefits", "OnlineAdviser" and "OnlineNavigator". Opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the author and do not represent the opinion of any other person, company or entity mentioned. Tony Novak is not an agent, broker, producer or navigator for any federal or state health insurance exchange but may provide uncompensated advice, reviews and referrals to these official resources. Novak is compensated as an accountant, adviser, affiliate consultant, marketer, reviewer, endorser, producer, lead generator or referrer to some of the other commercial companies listed on this site. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.