Big Data can play havoc with Insured says report

All these days, we have witnessed a lot of blah, blah, blah about the positives of Big Data and its influence on various industries. But now, here’s a news piece which proves that big data can also prove notorious if it is governed by fickle minds.

According to the Wall Street Journal Report, companies like Walmart and JP Morgan chase are using big data mining to track the health of their employees. This is not only raising plenty of privacy concerns, but is also helping companies to predict which employees might soon come down with serious conditions and go for a heavy insurance claim. Though, it superficially tells us “how the employers are concerned about their employees” it is not in reality.

Going with the general notion, no employer is entitled to know the detailed info about their employee’s health, even if they are subsidizing a part of their employees insurance. All this is because, the info is private, and should be preserved between the employee, doctor and health insurance company.

But recently, companies looking to cut health insurance costs have been hiring third parties to contract the work of mining all this data for them.

As a part of this program, companies are well in reserve getting alerted about the information that which employees might soon get pregnant, when they stop filling birth control prescriptions, as well as women who have made fertility related searches on Castlight’s health app.

“That data is matched with the woman’s age, and if applicable, the ages of her children to compute the likelihood of an impending pregnancy, says Jonathan Rende, Castlight’s chief research and development officer. She would then start receiving emails or in-app messages with tips for choosing an obstetrician or other prenatal care. If the algorithm guessed wrong, she could opt out of receiving similar messages.”

Although, these app services are incredible, they pass on the same info to employers who are always in a look out to cut down their healthcare bills.

The other example which The Wall Street Journal publicized on this nerve rattling issue was a recent case where spinal surgery was supposed to cost $20,000 or more to a certain section of employees working for a reputed firm. When Castlight discovered that 30% of Walmart employees were in an opinion to go for the surgery without a second opinion, the vendor made a concerted effort to communicate with employees about alternative options.

May be Castlight wanted the insurer get rid of huge claims coming from a single source in a span of a just one year.

So, if a firm which has employees doesn’t support such cases, then who will have to do it?

The answer from an anonymous working for Welltok said that employees who are not getting financial support from the insurance policy issued by their employers, should obviously depend on the individual policy which they would have probably taken to support big diseases( like cancer) insurance cover, which otherwise not covered by the employer issued policy.

Hence, all this proves that technology tools not only helped people live longer and lead healthier lives over the past century. But the same, if fallen into wrong hands can help corporations manipulate their employees’ actions.

Disagree…? Please share your comments on this notorious practice of using big data through comments section below.


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