Health Insurers Do Deep Data Dive to Estimate Your Healthcare Costs
Every time you post something on social media, pay a bill online, or make an online purchase you leave behind little data footprints. Now, an extensive report by National Public Radio and the nonprofit news organization ProPublica is pulling the curtain back on companies who are selling this data and how health insurance companies can use it.
The information is called “lifestyle data” and, according to the report, health insurers are buying this data big time, running it through complicated computer algorithms and coming up with a picture of what your “lifestyle” may cost them to pay for your healthcare.
The NPR/ProPublica story offers these examples:
“Are you a woman who recently changed your name? You could be newly married and have a pricey pregnancy pending. Or maybe you’re stressed and anxious from a recent divorce. That, too, the computer models predict, may run up your medical bills.
Are you a woman who has purchased plus-size clothing? You’re considered at risk of depression. Mental healthcare can be expensive.
Low-income and a minority? That means, the data brokers say, you are more likely to live in a dilapidated and dangerous neighborhood, increasing your health risks.”