Personal Information Is Off Limits!

mind-you-own-businessOne of my longstanding clients showed me a handful of Authorizations Release Point is asking him to sign on behalf of Unum. Ever since Unum retained Release Point to gopher medical information the claims process has become harassing and much more complicated.

What caught my eye was one Authorization in particular asking for the following:

  • Genetic and DNA testing results, counseling associated with test results.
  • History of sexually transmitted diseases. (STDs)
  • Hep B or C (Connotation of suspected IV drug use.)
  • Abortion records
  • Suicide attempts
  • Fertility programs
  • HIV test results

Are they kidding me? None of the above information has anything to do with an individual’s inability to work due to medical impairment. The sad thing is, however, that many people, including some readers perhaps, will sign such an Authorization because they think they have to. Let me be very clear – insureds do not have to sign such Authorizations which are beyond the scope of claims investigation. In fact, one might question why the information is requested in the first place.

First of all, surely those people who buy DNA results for curiosity sake must realize the information is most likely shared with other organizations. Genetic testing results would include all DNA test results including paternity testing, diagnostic disease probability etc.

Some states actually prohibit the sharing of DNA and HIV information and it is inappropriate for any organization to publicly request the information for private disability purposes. Still, I fear some insureds either aren’t paying attention to what they sign, or again, have the mistaken impression they have to sign the Authorizations in order to receive benefits.

Of what benefit to a private disability insurer are histories of an insureds sexually transmitted diseases? Or, abortions? While insurance companies have a great deal of latitude in requesting medical records pertaining to the insured’s claimed disability, insurers do not have the authority to private health information that is unrelated to one’s inability to work resulting from a medical diagnosis.

It is very important for insureds to know that these Authorizations are out there and that you may not want to sign them. I have to honestly say that Unum in particular engages in unfair practices with respect to private information. If the company can’t deny claims based on contractual definitions they always attempt to “cut of the head” with claim terminations based on credibility.

Unum’s frequent assumptions that because an insured was convicted of a crime or was incarcerated in the past, shouldn’t receive benefits is absurd. And yet, I’ve seen quite a few denials citing just that.

Insurance companies are entitled to medical, financial and occupational information regarding any claimed disability, but they are NOT entitled to medical information of a personal nature that has nothing to do with current claims. And, I would not sign off to disclose any type of information as listed above.

Finally, in my opinion, those who are requesting DNA results from labs advertising ethnic origin results should think twice about where the DNA results are going to wind up. Again, in my opinion, DNA is something that should be kept very close to home.

In any event, my message here is to communicate that insureds DO NOT have to sign Authorizations releasing private medical information that is not required for private disability claim investigation. In my mind, it seems to me insurers would have to show cause before requesting such information.

There are some things insurance companies. just cannot do.