Federal data protection officer criticizes data collection by health insurance companies
The Federal Data Protection Commissioner Peter Schaar has massively criticized the usual practice of health insurance companies for collecting data from insured persons who receive sick pay. Here, "deliberately trying to undermine the data protection mechanisms that we have," Schaar told the broadcaster "NDR Info".
In the so-called self-disclosure forms, some health insurance companies also ask for framework conditions regarding the family environment, vacation plans or the relationship between the insured and the employer, reports the Federal Data Protection Officer. Schaar expressed considerable doubts about the legality of such a questioning of the insured who were unable to work about their illness and their personal situation. "We have a number of complaints that are directed against various health insurers," continued the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information.
Inadmissible survey of insured persons A comprehensive survey of insured persons as soon as they receive sickness benefit is generally to be assessed extremely critically, according to the Federal Data Protection Officer. This should only be carried out if there are doubts about the incapacity to work and must refer to “hard facts”. According to Schaar in an interview with the "NDR Info", only questions such as "Is there incapacity to work?", "How long has it been?", "Can you tell when it will end?"
Health insurance companies are leveraging data protection mechanisms According to the Federal Data Protection Commissioner, health insurance companies are well aware of their legally questionable behavior. For example, they would usually withdraw the questionnaires if the insured asked about the legal basis for the collection of the data or if they wanted help with consumer protection. "I cannot imagine that the health insurers that are involved here can seriously claim that they are within the legally permissible range," emphasized Schaar. "I ask the health insurance companies to abide by the law," said the Federal Data Protection Officer. (fp)
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Picture: Gerd Altmann / laptop: metalmarious / pixelio.de