News Life and Health31 Jul 2018

Australia:Life insurers wary of national health database

31 Jul 2018

Life insurers are cautious as to the merits of My Health Record, a national personal health database, and its potential implications for the industry.

Currently life insurers are unable to access My Health Record data, alongside health insurers - which have been lobbying the Federal Government for secondary access. Life insurers are cautious as to how the data could be used to improve customer health and insurance efficiencies, reports Financial Standard.

The digital health database has been in the limelight since 16 July because of public concerns about privacy issues.

TAL general manager of health services Sally Phillips said the benefits of a health record accessible to both life insurers and treating doctors could provide health professionals with patient information they currently do not have.

"Life insurers may also have additional data that could be incorporated into the My Health Record. For example, data collected from standard insurance health assessment checks at policy application stage, could be added to the My Health Record, which may help treating doctors avoid having to request duplicate testing," she said.

"In all cases this would only be possible with customers' full consent."

"At a high level, if customers were willing at the point of application to provide insurers with access to their entire My Health Record, it could enable certain efficiencies in the underwriting process, but this would depend on the customer's personal circumstances," she said.

She added the data could potentially help insurers gain insights into prevention and claims support programmes. But the My Health Record data would be entirely dependent on what data customers agree to share with their life insurer.

My Health Record will be automatically set up for every Australian unless they opt out before 15 October. The system will track Australians’ allergies, medical conditions, previous or current medication, test results and anything else that is uploaded by a doctor – and share it between medical providers.

My Health Record is backed by all of Australia’s peak health bodies, including the Australian Medical Association, and the Royal College of Australian GPs.

Patients who don’t opt out of My Health Record but still want to control their privacy can ask for specific documents not to be added to the record, or remove them from the database.



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