About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Aetna's Personal Health Tool: Privacy, Please

Health insurer Aetna has rolled out a new personal health search service that will use members' personal health information to provide tailored search results.

The appeal is obvious: If an employee is a middle-aged woman with heart disease, her search on Aetna's new service can produce results tailored to her individual age, gender, circumstances--even to her recent test results that are in Aetna's files.

But the dangers are obvious too. Will the insurer use the information it gathers about employees' searches to set insurance premiums or deny coverage? And will this make employees unlikely to take advantage of the potentially valuable service?

Aetna says no. But it's another example of how tools that can help people make more informed decisions about their healthcare raise privacy concerns.

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