CIGNA: No Tax ID for You!

A couple of patients have contacted me recently to inform me that their health plans (CIGNA, Premera Blue Cross) refused to reimburse unless I provide them with the federal tax identification number for my practice. If I accepted money from insurance companies I could understand, since they would need it in order to issue me a 1099 at the end of every year. However, I only provide a superbill for the patient to use in filing a claim after they pay me for the service so the superbill always shows a balance of zero. I quit accepting reimbursement from inscos after I discovered they can legally demand that I give the money back, which I wrote about here.

CIGNA has not responded to my request for an explanation. I often suggest to the patient that they offer my National Provider Identification number instead, or even my state license number. If they have my tax ID number I worry that they will erroneously issue a 1099 for funds I never received.

Perhaps the claims people just do not understand that the company has no need for my tax ID in order to pay their subscriber. Do they just want to confirm my identify? My license number or NPI number should suffice. Is this a ploy to avoid paying on a claim? Do they just enjoy making physicians jump when they snap their fingers?

If all physicians refuse to accept money from health plans, and refused to give them our tax ID numbers, maybe we can force them to abandon this wasteful and gratuitous practice.

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