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More health insurers monitoring consumers' online habits

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Bonnie Albritton
More health insurers monitoring consumers' online habits
More health insurers monitoring consumers' online habits

When it comes to the amount of data companies in all industries are using these days to streamline their processes, health insurers seem to be ready and willing adopters of these new methods overall. Now, many companies are starting to put that information to good use when it comes to predicting who will make the most use of their policy providers' offerings.

Companies are now using data from many different areas of the health care field - everything from inpatient claims, prescriptions, demographic information, and so on - and beyond to determine which groups of policyholders may be most likely to head to the emergency room or seek other kinds of expensive treatment, according to a report from the New York Times. Moreover, the sheer amount of data to which these companies now have access from various sources might help them to determine all kinds of associations that could lead to more reliance on this kind of treatment, including internet use.

As it turns out, consumers who use the internet more often are also more likely to head to the emergency room, and this could be the case for any number of reasons, the report said. But regardless of the actual cause of this being the case, many care providers and insurers may choose to treat these Americans with more caution going forward, because they're seen as providing higher risks for costs.

Where does this data come from?
In addition to companies dipping into their own internal records to determine certain risk factors, they might also be able to lean on information from companies that specialize in providing this kind of insight, the report said. The medical data field is one that's growing very quickly, and may provide companies with the power to inform significant money-saving decisions for a relatively low cost. However, critics say that this kind of practice could lead to a slippery slope of multiple tiers of coverage and treatment for people based on factors that aren't necessarily in their control, and could therefore be unfair.

As such, health insurance providers might need to approach these kinds of tactics with caution, and make sure that they're doing all in their power to keep things as equitable for all policyholders as possible. However, they still need to keep an eye on their bottom lines, and as such, striking a balance between the two may be of the utmost importance going forward.

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