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Keep your data off my body!

By Jay MacDonald ·
Friday, July 22, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

Prepare to be scared: The FICO credit score people, claim they can now extrapolate from publically available home ownership and job status data the likelihood that you'll be a good, doctor-fearing consumer and take your medications as directed.

In yet another unwelcome intrusion into our personal lives masquerading as a jackpot of wonderfulness for the common man, FICO officials told The New York Times that "insurance companies and other health care groups will use the score to identify those patients who could benefit the most from follow-up phone calls, letters and emails to encourage proper use of medication." Apparently with a straight face!

Once I stopped laughing, I took a mental trip down memory lane of the number of times a financial data company expressed similar concern for my well-being. The trip took less than a second. Round trip.

Insurance companies, of course, have no intention of using the FICO data to phone up your elderly mother at the crack of dawn to remind her to take her hydroxy phibetakappamine. Instead, they plan to use this "scientific data" to their advantage in setting your rates for health insurance, life insurance, and who knows, maybe even the homeowners insurance on which it is partly based! What's to stop them? They use your FICO credit score already.

Come on down the cattle chute for a closer look.

According to the Times story, FICO has developed the Medication Adherence Score that it claims can predict the likelihood that you'll skip or incorrectly take your prescription medications.

You'll love these assumptions: women, young people and those who recently started a job or bought a home are less likely to take their meds as directed. Same for those who are unmarried or live alone. Ah, science!

FICO expects to have scored two to three million Americans by year's end and 10 million within the next 12 months. Shortly thereafter, garage rockers will commence banging out the jingle. (OK, I made that up; it will probably happen sooner.)

The Times notes that, since FICOMAS does not rely on actual medical history or financial information to pull off this feat of clairvoyance, "it can be compiled without a person's knowledge or permission." Moooo!

Like "X-File's" Fox Mulder, I want to believe. But when I read about things like a Medication Adherence Score presented with a straight face, I start reaching for my medication. Specifically, the blood pressure one.

I plead with you, FICO: Please go back to ruining our chances for a consumer loan and leave our health insurance alone.

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July 25, 2011 at 10:29 am

come on, like the FICO people would ever actually try to help us...

Thom Morris
July 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm

To Homeless:
A. We don't have universal healthcare (or anything remotely resembling it.)
B. These are not government agencies being discussed, but private financial companies such as the very health insurance companies that you seem to prefer to have looking out for your interests.
Think about it.

July 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Is this actually a surprise to people???

This is a DIRECT SIDE EFFECT of universal healthcare. When the government is put in charge of EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of our lives, this is what happens!

Sheyna Steiner
July 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

Great post...hilarious and deeply disturbing at the same time. My mind can't take all the boggling it's endured lately...