Unique Health IDentifier


Unique Health IDentifier, within the United States has been a controversial subject.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) established the statutory authority to create a Unique Health IDentifier, a distinct ID code to identify the medical records of every individual, employer, health plan, and health care provider in America.

Section 1173(b) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C.8 1320d–2(b) reads:

  • (b)[209] Unique Health Identifiers.—
    • (1) In general.—The Secretary shall adopt standards providing for a standard unique health identifier for each individual, employer, health plan, and health care provider for use in the health care system. In carrying out the preceding sentence for each health plan and health care provider, the Secretary shall take into account multiple uses for identifiers and multiple locations and specialty classifications for health care providers.

However, United States Congress had a provision written into every Congressional budget since 1999 has included: “None of the funds made available in this act may be used to promulgate or adopt any final standard under section 1173(b) of the Social Security Act providing for, or providing for the assignment of, a Unique Health IDentifier for an individual (except in an individual’s capacity as an employer or a health care provider), until legislation is enacted specifically approving the 13 standard,..”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Jan 22, 2004 announced the adoption of the National Provider Identifier (NPI) as the standard Unique Health IDentifier for Health Care Providers to use in filing and processing HealthCare claims and other transactions.

June 2019 the United States House of Representatives voted to end the ban however, September 23, 2019 the United States Senate appropriators declined to include the language in its draft fiscal year 2020 funding legislation. A Joint congressional committee will need to hash out the differences.

Medicare Beneficiary Identifier#

In April 2018, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began mailing out new Medicare cards with new ID numbers to all beneficiaries. Previous cards had Identifiers using or containing beneficiaries' Social Security Numbers; the new ID numbers are randomly generated and not tied to any other Personally Identifiable Information.

More Information#

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