2018/11/21 - Is Your Insurance Company Watching You?
Insurance companies subsidize medical devices when they are prescribed for necessary medical treatment. However, it is important to realize that the digital world easily allows the transmission of data from these devices. Patients might expect that they would be asked for consent before personal information and behavior is transmitted to insurers via such a device, but that is not always the case.
This ProPublica article describes more than one case where patients using CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines to help with sleep apnea were surprised to find that the machine was transmitting sleep data to their insurance companies. The insurer may use this sleep data to justify refusing to cover a new machine or upgraded parts. On one hand, insurance companies want to ensure that the CPAP machine is being used to the fullest extent, otherwise the treatment may not be effective. Insurers could then use imperfect patient compliance to justify denying coverage of the expense, as noted in this article from VeryWellHealth.com. However, many patients would want to be asked for consent before having their personal habits shared with an insurance company. Insurance companies tracking personal habits without consent or awareness may force patients to choose between their privacy and their wallet.