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Could your browser history cause denied health insurance coverage?

With so much data available about your search and shopping history online, could it be feasible that insurers would use it to measure your insurability?

working typing laptop

Your devices are listening to you

Have you noticed that apps on your internet devices are getting smarter about integrating your data?

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Case in point – About two weeks ago, I was emailing someone on my laptop to set up a time when we could talk on the phone.When they finally called me on my smartphone, the number popped up and underneath the digits it said, “Maybe [Andy Smith].” I had never put his name in my phone as a contact, and it was a one-time thing. I’ve noticed that what I search for on my laptop often shows up in other apps as ads on my phone.

Does that scare you? It should. Just a little bit.

So, what does this have to do with health insurance?

Castlight Health, an app which works to lower healthcare costs for businesses, is being used by quite a few companies. Walmart, CVS, and Liberty Mutual are just a few of its corporate customers. (I have no personal experience with the app.)

On the Castlight website, it gives examples about how the app helps employees and employers. For example, “Mary searches for an orthopedic surgeon.” The app then guides her to different options other than surgery to help her find treatment.

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Who is tracking your searches?

Right now, you would have to use Castlight Health to have it track your searches. But with so much data available about your search and shopping history online, could it be feasible that insurers would use it to measure your insurability?

It could be much like a credit score, but a health score based on your internet use.

Tack on other elements of your internet use, like your political leanings or friends’ activities, and you have the beginnings of a serious profile that may or may not be really you.

As a professional writer, I routinely search for information about different topics that are totally unrelated to me personally. Two weeks ago, I was looking for information about the First Amendment and stats on watching porn at the library. My search history also includes information about low-income housing tax credit and real estate discrimination laws. Dear Internet Police, I’m not looking for an apartment or housing, please don’t tailor my ads to show me places to live. I wonder if an employer would be afraid I was getting ready to make a move?

Do you know how your data is being used?

I’ll admit my internet search history is much more varied than most of my friends.

But what if you had a friend who told you they were using drugs, and you do a search to find treatment options. Would an employer believe it was for you?

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Does your current internet use indicate future behavior? I can very honestly say that my internet usage is much different than it was just five years ago, and I would suspect that most of you would say the same.

If I was working for an employer in an office, I wouldn’t appreciate them tracking my online searches to see how insurable I was or wasn’t. We need to pay attention to how our data is being used. We should all be watching this topic.

#FutureOfData

Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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