Data Mining Exec Pays For Burgers In Cash To Keep His Insurance Company From Knowing His Bad Diet Habits

from the privacy?-what's-that? dept

The Economist recently had an interesting article on how insurance companies are increasingly using data mining to "analyze risk." That is, they look through the data which was originally collected for the purpose of better marketing, and use it as a tool to see if you lead an unhealthy life. However, the really interesting point is highlighted by Kashmir Hill, where an exec at a datamining company admits that he's changed his habits because of this. Not his eating habits, mind you. But how he purchases food:
Insurers' interest in data mining will only grow, says Kevin Pledge, the boss of Insight Decision Solutions, an underwriting-technology consultancy based near Toronto.... Insurance firms will also analyse grocery purchases for clues about policyholders, he predicts. But that raises some sticky questions about privacy. Mr Pledge himself has begun to forgo his supermarket loyalty-card discount on junk food and pay for his burgers in cash. Promising as data mining is, much will depend on how regulators, and consumers, react.
He also notes that he's working on a system that will go through your social media profiles to see if you provide any info insurers may want to know about. This, of course, is the natural extension of our data explosion. But, in my experience, all of these companies who collect data seem to do an incredibly bad job at getting it right. And... as long as there's that "cash hole" for data, it's hard to see how accurate such information would really be.

Filed Under: data mining, health, insurance, social media


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  1. icon
    FarSide (profile), 22 Jun 2012 @ 6:04am

    Re:

    "A government forced to cover all it's citizens however can't just arbitrary cover healthy citizens bills and not unhealthy citizens, they'd have to do something indirect to effect your behavior to reduce their expenses, like put a 10 cent tax on greasy burgers to make people eat something cheaper and healthier."

    Or make large sodas illegal! That's just crazy! It's a good thing we can trust that government won't ever be able to do stuff like that...

    Also, you don't HAVE to buy insurance (yet).

    Don't get me wrong - I think insurance companies are right behind banks when it comes to bad entities. But both of them are far, far behind the govt. because they take the others' money and look the other way and enable them.

    In other words, don't make a false dichotomy of having to like either the govt or the big insurance companies - I don't trust any of 'em.

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