Insurers 'snooping on GP records'

Braintree and Witham Times: Life insurers are being given full access to people's health records, it is claimed Life insurers are being given full access to people's health records, it is claimed

Data watchdogs are to investigate claims that Britain's leading life insurers are being given full access to GP records.

The Information Commissioner will look into concerns that insurers are routinely accessing medical records, including details about contraception, mental health and relationships, without customer consent.

Data protection rules state that insurers are supposed to have permission from patients before asking for relevant health information from their doctors.

But companies are believed to be increasingly in breach of data protection rules, with doctors' groups claiming they are using such consent to seek full disclosure of records, the Daily Telegraph said.

Insurers Aviva and Legal & General said that for the past 12 months they had sought full medical records for their clients, but insisted they disregarded any details which were not directly relevant to their assessments.

Although blanket requests were made, GPs had been instructed to withhold certain types on information, such as whether patients had tested negative for HIV. If the details were disclosed, they would be ignored, said the firms.

The Information Commissioner said it was aware of the matter and would investigate whether companies were working within current legal safeguards.

The Medical Protection Society, which represents 290,000 medical professionals, said it discovered a sharp rise in concerns about data requests by insurers, with about 2,300 calls from doctors over the past year on the subject.

John Canning of the British Medical Association said the revelation was of "grave concern" and warned that many customers may be providing consent without realising how much information might be released.

He told the Telegraph: "A GP will hold all your medical history, containing details such as contraception use, termination of pregnancies and relationship issues that would have no bearing on an insurance policy.

"Our concern is that the consent obtained by insurers isn't always understood by the person applying for a policy."

Comments (3)

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10:26am Mon 26 May 14

Independentvoter says...

Problem solved ! When you visit your GP next - request to see the clerk in charge of medical records and inform them of your rights.

You have a right to request to view any copies of your medical records before they leave the doctors even with your permission. If they fail to do this then they have broken the Data Protection Act Laws.
Problem solved ! When you visit your GP next - request to see the clerk in charge of medical records and inform them of your rights. You have a right to request to view any copies of your medical records before they leave the doctors even with your permission. If they fail to do this then they have broken the Data Protection Act Laws. Independentvoter
  • Score: 7

2:41pm Tue 27 May 14

varteg1 says...

An American I worked with in Saudi had to take legal action to protect his rights over a similar notion.

His doctor was compelled to reveal the guy had taken an HIV test, which was demanded by the Saudi authorities before signing his contract. The insurers then refused to insure him on the basis he had been tested for HIV.

Fortunately the Saudi's ignored that and he was employed, as were the rest of us who also had to be so tested.

He took his American insurers to court at great expense, and won his case, the insurer had to pay his expenses.

Even asking your GP for your records is no defence as most have now digitised them, which of course means, they can be accessed by anyone with the right password. So how can you stop your GP, or his practice manager, receptionist, cleaner even, divulging that to any Tom Dick or Harry who asks, and, probably, offers cash for it?
An American I worked with in Saudi had to take legal action to protect his rights over a similar notion. His doctor was compelled to reveal the guy had taken an HIV test, which was demanded by the Saudi authorities before signing his contract. The insurers then refused to insure him on the basis he had been tested for HIV. Fortunately the Saudi's ignored that and he was employed, as were the rest of us who also had to be so tested. He took his American insurers to court at great expense, and won his case, the insurer had to pay his expenses. Even asking your GP for your records is no defence as most have now digitised them, which of course means, they can be accessed by anyone with the right password. So how can you stop your GP, or his practice manager, receptionist, cleaner even, divulging that to any Tom Dick or Harry who asks, and, probably, offers cash for it? varteg1
  • Score: 1

10:55pm Tue 27 May 14

underdogs says...

This has very serious implications for patients at GPs surgeries and can end up having a negative effect on individual patients for the rest of their lives after sensitive personal data has been disclosed to those who insure us, employ us, provide medical insurance etc etc - and of course when this information gets leaked it could ruin peoples lives !
I understand GPs are paid about ONE POUND per patient for patient data,
so who is getting richer - and who is potentially having their life, maybe even their families life ruined for ONE POUND !!!!
This has very serious implications for patients at GPs surgeries and can end up having a negative effect on individual patients for the rest of their lives after sensitive personal data has been disclosed to those who insure us, employ us, provide medical insurance etc etc - and of course when this information gets leaked it could ruin peoples lives ! I understand GPs are paid about ONE POUND per patient for patient data, so who is getting richer - and who is potentially having their life, maybe even their families life ruined for ONE POUND !!!! underdogs
  • Score: 2
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