Top insurers under fire for medical snooping

Ali Hussein in The SUnday Times 25th May 2014 reports:

Top insurers under fire for medical snooping

Watchdog orders inquiry after unwitting customers give L&G and Aviva access to their entire records

SOME of Britain’s biggest life insurers face an inquiry into claims that they are gathering unnecessary medical information about customers from GPs — including details about contraception, mental health and relationship problems.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is to investigate growing concerns about the number of personal details requested for life insurance applications.

The move follows a Sunday Times investigation, which found that some insurers, including Aviva and Legal & General (L&G), routinely make “subject access requests” under the Data Protection Act to access all records held by GPs, rather than bespoke medical reports highlighting only relevant information.

John Canning of the British Medical Association expressed “grave concern”, saying: “A GP will hold all your medical history, containing details such as contraception use, termination of pregnancies and relationship issues that would have no bearing on an insurance policy.

“Our concern is that the consent obtained by insurers isn’t always understood by the person applying for a policy. Our belief is that this is a misuse of the Data Protection Act.”

How often is it that patients records are “not available” in the different Regional Health Services – which have failed to computerise, an act that would solve the problem? The opposite side of the coin of having too little information is giving away too much…


This entry was posted in A Personal View, Community Health Councils, Patient representatives, Political Representatives and activists, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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