For Americans, lack of personal privacy has been going on for quite some time now. I don’t know if it’s just that people are finally waking up to what they don’t have anymore, or that the environment of disability insurance progressed along with new technologies, but it’s pretty clear most of us have no expectation of privacy in these modern times.
I say this in the context of listening to insureds’ concerns regarding requests for signed insurance Authorizations, which by the way, haven’t changed very much in the last 20 years. That may be part of the problem because Social Security will not recognize most insurance general Authorizations as “permissions” to obtain information even though the old forms still list SSA as a source.
Let me use myself as an example. As a business owner I can gain access to my clients’ credit reports, town office information, and all available information on the Internet. I can buy a piece of software for $39.99 and gain access to cell phone information and GPS locations. I can conduct activities checks, contact neighbors, and look up where you live using satellite internet resources. I can’t begin to tell you how much information I could obtain about any one of my clients and…….without asking for any signed authorization.
As a Consultant, I choose not to conduct such investigations because I believe it is unethical if the information is not necessary to provide goods and services. I prefer to trust my clients on face value and believe what they are telling me is true, although the incidences of DCS getting burned are more frequent now. Still, my point is, that there probably isn’t any new information out there that couldn’t be obtained without signed Authorizations, much less with one.
Insurance companies have been buying information from Facebook for a very long time. Google maintains data files of every stroke you make on your computer. The government also maintains data files of your information. Is there something you think insurance companies can’t get without your signed Authorization? Think again.
Granted, bank accounts and other financial information may still be off limits, but for the most part disability insureds are subject to levels of investigation with or without signed Authorizations.
HIPAA only protects the “electronic transmission of medical data”, something insureds often misunderstand. In addition, HIPAA really doesn’t provide insureds protection since once an Authorization is signed, patient medical data is “out there” and loses what little HIPAA protection it had.
Insureds are always placed in a position of, “…if you don’t sign this Authorization you claim may be denied.” Insurers can always say that insureds prevented them from obtaining required information needed in order to investigate claims.” Not signing an insurance Authorization is a conflict insureds can’t win.
In my opinion, insureds need to consider that we have lived in a new “Information Age” for the last fifty years. There isn’t much about any of us that can’t be found out, investigated, requested, bought, or spied upon. Perhaps our only regret in the future is that our privacy was lost without a whimper.