Prescription Data Used To Assess Consumers / Records Aid Insurers but Prompt Privacy Concerns [Telecom]
- From: Monty Solomon <monty@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2008 22:56:43 -0400 (EDT)
Prescription Data Used To Assess Consumers
Records Aid Insurers but Prompt Privacy Concerns
By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 4, 2008; A01
Health and life insurance companies have access to a powerful new
tool for evaluating whether to cover individual consumers: a health
"credit report" drawn from databases containing prescription drug
records on more than 200 million Americans.
Collecting and analyzing personal health information in commercial
databases is a fledgling industry, but one poised to take off as the
nation enters the age of electronic medical records. While lawmakers
debate how best to oversee the shift to computerized records, some
insurers have already begun testing systems that tap into not only
prescription drug information, but also data about patients held by
clinical and pathological laboratories.
Traditionally, insurance companies have judged an applicant's risk by
gathering medical records from physicians' offices. But the new tools
offer the advantage of being "electronic, fast and cheap," said Mark
Franzen, managing director of Milliman IntelliScript, which provides
consumers' personal drug profiles to insurers.
The trend holds promise for improved health care and cost savings,
but privacy and consumer advocates fear it is taking place largely
outside the scrutiny of federal health regulators and lawmakers.
Ingenix, a Minnesota-based health information services company that
had $1.3 billion in sales last year -- and Wisconsin-based rival
Milliman -- say the drug profiles are an accurate, less expensive
alternative to seeking physician records, which can take months and
hundreds of dollars to obtain. They note that consumers authorize the
data release and that the services can save insurance companies
millions of dollars and benefit consumers anxious for a decision.
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