Michelle Taylor v. General Electric pits the plaintiff’s desire to protect their private information against the defendant’s requirement to report that private information to the government as part of an insurance settlement. The issue in this case was must the claimant provide the insurer her social security number (SSN) so the defendant can settle the claim and report the settlement under Section 111, the mandatory insurer reporting provisions of the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (MMSEA).
After an extensive legal analysis, the U.S. magistrate judge recommended to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that the plaintiff’s motion to enforce the settlement be denied. Basically, the magistrate judge concluded that the lack of a SSN disclosure provision in the settlement agreement constituted a material term of the settlement that was never agreed upon, and that the law does not allow him to enforce a contract where essential matters are left open.
Interestingly, the SMART bill, signed by President Obama on January 10, 2013, deals with this problem of plaintiffs not wanting to disclose SSNs in settlements when SSNs are required by the insurer to comply with Section 111 mandatory insurer reporting requirements of MMSEA. The SMART bill’s solution is to give the government 18 months, with a one-year extension, to modify the reporting requirements so that reporting the SSN is not required.
For me, I would give an insurance company my SSN in exchange for a check rather than pay my attorneys to go to court. Medicare has my SSN anyway. But that’s just me. Also, I always thought that the answer to the SSN issue is to do the same thing the IRS does with 1099s. If the plaintiff won’t give the insurer their social security number, check a box that says the claimant is refusing to disclose their SSN and that box will get reported to Medicare as part of Section 111 reporting.
To view Michelle Taylor v. General Electric click here
To view the SMART Bill, H.R. 1845 click here
To view previous Medivest blog about H.R. 1845 click here