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Data Brokers and Your Health Ins Rates

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  Justin Volz, special to ProPublic

https://www.propublica.org/article/health-insurers-are-vacuuming-up-details-about-you-and-it-could-raise-your-rates?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosvitals&stream=top

 

"The LexisNexis booth was emblazoned with the slogan “Data. Insight. Action.” The company said it uses 442 non-medical personal attributes to predict a person’s medical costs. Its cache includes more than 78 billion records from more than 10,000 public and proprietary sources, including people’s cellphone numbers, criminal records, bankruptcies, property records, neighborhood safety and more. The information is used to predict patients’ health risks and costs in eight areas, including how often they are likely to visit emergency rooms, their total cost, their pharmacy costs, their motivation to stay healthy and their stress levels.

People who downsize their homes tend to have higher health care costs, the company says. As do those whose parents didn’t finish high school. Patients who own more valuable homes are less likely to land back in the hospital within 30 days of their discharge. The company says it has validated its scores against insurance claims and clinical data. But it won’t share its methods and hasn’t published the work in peer-reviewed journals. 

McCulley, LexisNexis’ director of strategic solutions, said predictions made by the algorithms about patients are based on the combination of the personal attributes. He gave a hypothetical example: A high school dropout who had a recent income loss and doesn’t have a relative nearby might have higher than expected health costs. 

But couldn’t that same type of person be healthy? I asked.

“Sure,” McCulley said, with no apparent dismay at the possibility that the predictions could be wrong.

McCulley and others at LexisNexis insist the scores are only used to help patients get the care they need and not to determine how much someone would pay for their health insurance. The company cited three different federal laws that restricted them and their clients from using the scores in that way. But privacy experts said none of the laws cited by the company bar the practice. The company backed off the assertions when I pointed that the laws did not seem to apply.

LexisNexis officials also said the company’s contracts expressly prohibit using the analysis to help price insurance plans. They would not provide a contract. But I knew that in at least one instance a company was already testing whether the scores could be used as a pricing tool."

 

https://www.propublica.org/article/health-insurers-are-vacuuming-up-details-about-you-and-it-could-raise-your-rates?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosvitals&stream=top

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Your state insurance commissioner is the one who decides what an insurer can use to justify rates in your state. These data brokers are always looking for new "markets" for their products, so now apparently LN is aiming for the health insurance market. 

 

Another data broker to watch is Appriss, who is already a data provider to the property insurance market, now providing your "Narx score" to doctors and pharmacies. According to their descriptions, they anticipate using secondary data, such as ER admissions, traffic tickets, health insurance claims, and even data from electronic health records, such as treatment for depression, HIV, hepatitis, or insomnia (bye bye doctor-patient confidentiality), and the ultimate, treatment for substance abuse, which up until recently was protected information.

 

Not only is there no right to privacy, there is no longer any privacy. 

And we thought MIB was bad. :(

 

Wait til they go for those harmless genetic profiles. You know, the ones you pay for yourself? Thinking they're confidential?

 

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