THE PRIVATE PATIENT
By Grant Hall
Avoid Privacy Invasions
“What’s your ‘Social,’ Mr. Hall?”
She might as well have asked for the PIN to our business bank account. “We need your ‘Social,’ Mr. Hall,” she
repeated. I glanced up from the Nora Roberts novel I was reading. You’ll get it when hell freezes over, I thought. I
wanted to yell it—to swear, to scream at her! Be patient, my Inner Voice insisted.
“The doctor will see you now, Mr. Hall.” Saved by the bell!
Laura, the pretty hygienist, had heard it all. She “speaks” to me with her eyes. They move upward. Rolling? Rising up,
I notice how fittingly the brown shirt with an emblem suits Ms. Swain, the office manager whose self-esteem I expect
depends on each i being perfectly dotted and every t being crossed with a ruler-drawn horizontal line on each and
every form. Some must salute her, I’m sure—or perhaps extend a straight and rigid arm and palm, as heels are
clapped together while yelling “HEIL!”
An hour later—and well rested from “laughing gas” and pleasantries that can only be experienced as thirty-something
beauties poke and prod, swish and clean, and do all the talking—Doc comes in, looks inside, mumbles something
about “good X-rays,” and I’m out of there. I’ll call in to schedule the next appointment later. Storm Trooper Swain
doesn’t look up as I exit.
Communicate and Negotiate
“The dental board wants us to identify our patients, Grant.” Mid-60s, fivefeet- seven inches in height, balding, portly,
with a ruddy complexion, Lewis Talburt Robinson, D.D.S. appears somewhat out of place in the “front office.” Nervous?
I wonder. “Just in case of an accident, your dental records can be matched to your body,” he continues. Somehow, I
find it funny but keep a straight face.
“Yes, sir. I want to be able to be identified in case of an emergency. Of course, Doctor. It’s just that, well, I’ve had to
be extremely careful since…well…Identity Theft IS the fastest growing crime in the country, you know. I can provide a
U.S. passport number that is an official identifier. Will that be sufficient for your records, Doctor?” He agrees. Starchy-
drawers Swain doesn’t look up.
With the masses “dumbed down” and hoodwinked into believing that office managers and clerks serve as their “semi-masters and mistresses”—only a step or three below “Big Bureaucrats”…with these masses failing to question anything, as they continue swallowing the gunk the “brown-shirted, jack-booted Swains” attempt to spoon-feed down their passive throats…yes, with the masses passively going along without resistance, those who want freedom from identity theft, theft-theft, or any number of other privacyrelated, costly crimes will be best served to have a plan, to speak it clearly, and to not budge—not even an inch—when right. Be firm and polite.
In fact, understanding who is entitled to your most personal and confidential information—your Social Security number,
even your name…that kind of personal info—is half the battle toward winning high-level privacy and experiencing the
freedom of knowing that your business is yours. Who is entitled to your most private “secrets?” Not the butcher, the
baker, or the candlestick maker—unless you decide you want to tell them. And I don’t think you should, unless you’re
required to do so by law in your given jurisdiction.
That’s my rule, established years ago: If it’s not a legal requirement, it’s negotiable, as far as privacy is concerned.
And though living under the radar appears to cost more, the current Privacy Crisis IS cause for concern and in
fact, living a private lifestyle may be the cheapest preventive measure you can take in the current Identity theft
epidemic and government-gone-mad syndrome.
Keep It Private
You’ll be well served by operating outside the norm as you go about everyday living, as far as your privacy is
concerned. Keeping your business away from those who can potentially harm you, your family, or your finances is
just prudent business—not paranoid behavior—in our current identity theft–prone environment. And your privacy
priorities should include making it next to impossible for your name, date of birth, and Social Security number to be
stolen. Therefore, avoid providing this information—always—unless it is required by law. Also, don’t provide all three
identifiers on the same form, as this increases the vulnerability of these big three — unless required by law to do so.
I’ll bet the 200 or so dental patients whose names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers were left in a stolen
car in Denver, Colorado, wish they had kept at least two of the three crucial identifiers private. The Colorado
Department of Dental Registration has notified these patients that they may be at risk of identity theft.1 And the
future isn’t known for these vulnerable patients, now that their records have been stolen and two men have been
charged with identity theft.
Many people have real losses and horrible, time-consuming, expensive inconvenience, due to medically related
identity theft. Joe Ryan’s name and Social Security number were used by a convict who was treated in a hospital
that sent the real Ryan a $44,000 bill for the services.2
Medical identity theft is among the most profitable for criminals. And when one becomes a victim, often a double-
whammy loss is incurred—both time-wise and through a future, intangible loss. You see, once your medical
records have been tampered with so they now reflect maladies you’ve never suffered from, you’ll have the burden of
proving the bills don’t belong to you, as well as attempting to make certain your medical records are corrected. Expect
to lose an average of $2,400 for an individual I.D. theft and upwards of $10,000 for a business fraud.3 In addition to
the costly expense of the crime, if you do have an imposter steal your identity and obtain medical services, you’ll
have that “preexisting condition” on your records and will face huge premium increases or be rated up when it comes
time to be underwritten for health insurance.
It may require extra creative effort to avoid revealing personal information as one obtains medical and dental
services—particularly when claims will be submitted to an insurance company. However, it’s possible and prudent
not to provide an SSN or a date of birth to the providers. I don’t. And this article explains why. Instead, I state my
age so that the Doc is able to have the information necessary for a proper medical or dental evaluation, but I avoid
the date of birth and especially—and ALWAYS—the Social Security number.
Extra privacy precautions are necessary for everyday living today in order to protect yourself and your family—not
to mention your capital. I’ve covered all aspects of modern privacy living in my e-book, Privacy Crisis: Identity
Theft Prevention Plan and Guide to Anonymous Living, available as an ebook at: www.PrivacyCrisis.com.
1. Nicholson, Kieran, “Hundreds of patients at risk of ID theft,”
Denverpost.com, December 7, 2007.
2. Griffin, R. Morgan, “The Scary Truth About Medical Identity Theft,”
WebMD, February 2, 2007, WebMD, Inc., 2007.
3. Hall, Grant, Privacy Crisis: Identity Theft Prevention Plan and Guide to
Anonymous Living, James Clark King, LLC, 2006, www.PrivacyCrisis.com.
Copyright © James Clark King, LLC, 2-16-07.