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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Concerns voiced over private insurer use of consumer data from health programs

Health Industry Hub | December 2, 2022 |

MedTech News: Private health insurers have continued to develop new schemes and build on existing programs which allows them to access, use and share consumers’ personal information with third party organisations. The ACCC remains concerned that few consumers are fully informed of, fully understand, or can effectively control, the scope of data collected when they sign up for or use such services.

NIB’s launch of the ‘GreenPass’ health program in April 2022 allows consumers to receive an online health check and skin check, and to track health-related information such as fitness, nutrition and mood. Logging more information about health and fitness in the ‘Well with nib’ app as part of this program leads to customers earning more rewards. NIB outlines that customers may ‘choose to share additional Personal Information…through [their] interaction with the GreenPass product’, and that in turn NIB may use contact details to send information ‘about a particular program, program updates, new features, or to recommend programs that we think may interest you’.

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Priceline Pharmacy and NIB jointly launched a health insurance product in April 2022. This product is available to members of Priceline’s Sister Club loyalty scheme. Purchasing this Priceline health insurance product, and paying premiums, gives Sister Club members more points in the loyalty scheme. Priceline’s Privacy Policy notes that they may ‘collect [a customer’s] personal information in relation to [a customer’s] interactions and transactions with us, including using our loyalty cards’. The Privacy Policy also sets out that Priceline may disclose information to ‘an organisation that is in an arrangement or alliance with us’, which includes NIB.

Medibank announced in September 2022 that its Live Better ‘health and wellbeing program’ had reached 500,000 members. Through its wellbeing apps, Medibank collects sensitive information including lifestyle, diet, exercise and health related information. Medibank’s privacy policy sets out a wide range of possible uses of personal information, including conducting targeted marketing, and to ‘engage in analytic and research activities (inclusive of a wide range of analytics and customer behavioural research projects)’.

The October cybersecurity incident impacting Medibank also highlights the risks that arise when businesses collect large amounts of sensitive data. On 7 November 2022, Medibank announced following investigations that a criminal had established access to personal information of about 9.7 million current and former customers and some authorised representatives. Medibank also announced that the criminal had accessed Medicare numbers for ahm customers, passport numbers and visa details for international student customers, and health claims data for nearly 500,000 customers.

The ACCC warns insurers to weigh up these risks when considering new measures to collect consumer health data, and the need for sufficiently robust measures to protect against cybersecurity threats.

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