Life Insurance Quotes Are Only as Good as Your Medical Records
Your medical records keep track of every illness and doctor visit you’ve ever had in your life. That information can be very interesting to any company that wants to know how healthy you are and whether you might experience health problems in the near future. Although there are some federal and state protections in place to keep your medical records from being shared publicly, many companies have found a way around the regulations and are sharing your information without your knowledge.
Not all of the information sharing is done intentionally, however. Computer record keeping has made it easier than ever to have your records accidentally posted by an incompetent employee. Digital records are also easier to track down through computer networks that do not have the appropriate protections. The value of medical records to some companies can make it profitable to sell that information, as well. You might be surprised at how easy it is for your employer or insurance company to review your entire medical history without gaining your permission.
How Your Medical History Impacts Life Insurance Quotes
Life insurance prices are determined based on several factors, including your age, your health, and your lifestyle. People who are younger and healthier will pay less for their life insurance because they have a better chance of outliving the insurance policy. People who have suffered from a chronic illness or injury could pay more for life insurance because they have a higher risk of dying while they are covered by the policy. Your life expectancy is determined in large part based on your overall health.
Even if you are healthy today, your medical records could contain information that would be seen as a red flag to a life insurance company. They will look for indications that you have had a severe illness in the past because that would make you more likely to have a severe illness in the future. Your medical record will list the types of medications you’ve been prescribed, which can indicate the types of health problems you’ve recovered from and potential weaknesses you could have trouble with again. Your medical records will also show if you’ve ever been a smoker or had problems with addictive drugs. Anything that might make you a higher risk for a future illness will have a negative impact on your life insurance quotes.
Digital Record-Keeping Makes Medical History Easier to Access
During the days when most people visited the same family doctor, all of their lives and their medical records were kept in paper files. A company would have to visit the doctor’s office to access the information kept in the medical record files. Today, most files are kept digitally. Many people tend to visit more than one doctor throughout their lives, as well. This combination of visiting several different doctors and keeping medical records stored on computer files makes it easy for companies to transfer the information back and forth through computer connections.
The ease of sharing medical records has made selling medical records big business. Marketing companies carefully walk the line so that they don’t break any laws while they sell medical information to any company willing to pay for the records. Since the files are all digital, they can be copied and sold many times. Loopholes in state and federal privacy laws make it possible for employers, banks, and insurance companies to access these digital files so that they can use them to make decisions about your various applications based on your medical history.
Not all Information in the Records is Accurate
One of the biggest problems with outside companies accessing your medical records is that it is entirely possible that your records do not accurately reflect your health situation. Digital medical record files are created by humans who spend their days typing in medical codes and notes for thousands of patients. Coding mistakes can happen, which would mean that your record could show that you underwent a treatment for an illness that you never really suffered from. Incorrect information that is accidentally entered into your medical records could prevent you from finding affordable life insurance.
Another reason for some of the inaccurate entries in a person’s medical record stems from the way health insurance companies pay for treatments. Some procedures and tests can only be performed if the patient has undergone other specific types of tests or treatments. Medical professionals will enter false records of previous tests so that they can perform the test that they need to perform. That means that your medical record could show that you were treated for an ailment that you never had simply because the medical professional needed to include that treatment in the record as a formality so that your real procedure would be covered by your health insurance.
Federal Medical History Protections to be Understand
The government has passed some laws to better protect patients from having their medical records shared without their knowledge, but it is your responsibility to make sure the laws are being followed and enforced. Talk with your medical provider about how your medical records are being protected. Ask for a copy of your medical records so that you can see for yourself that everything listed is accurate. Some medical offices may charge a small fee for copying the records, but they are required by law to provide them to you at your request. You can also access a free copy of your medical records through the Medical Information Bureau (MIB).
Look over any medical authorization release very carefully before you sign it. Don’t sign the release if it allows blanket authorization for access to your records. Replace general time periods for the availability of your information with specific dates that you are willing to allow the records to be shared. You can also indicate that you will only allow certain portions of your records to be viewed, and that you do not give permission for anyone other than the authorized party to view the records.