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Weighing Privacy Vs. Rewards Of Letting Insurers Track Your Fitness

Weighing Privacy Vs Rewards Of Letting Insurers Track Your Fitness All Tech Considered NPR


Would you be willing to hand over your health information to a life insurance company, in exchange for financial rewards?

Activity trackers have become increasingly popular over the past few years, tracking everything from how many steps you walk, to your location throughout the day.

Now, John Hancock, a U.S.-based insurer, hopes that fit and active people will exchange activity data for lower life insurance premiums and other perks. Those who sign up for this optional program, the first of its kind in the United States, will receive a free Fitbit device to track their activity levels.

This program, announced Wednesday, may seem like a win-win: Insurers can sell their product to a new market of gadget-loving millennials and in return, healthy consumers can access steep discounts.

But privacy advocates fear that programs like these will result in auto, health and life insurers hedging their risks by monitoring your every move.

"This is essentially a medical surveillance system," said Jamie Court from Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit that advocates for taxpayer and consumer interests.

"This may look like a carrot to lure new customers, but it's ultimately a stick," he said. Court fears that John Hancock's program will slowly gain acceptance among young and affluent people, but that over time insurers will build tools that will be used to deny people coverage.

"If you're hit by a car or something happens, insurance companies would go ahead and raise your rates. The more data they get, the more they can use it against us."

In other words, privacy experts fear that there's very little to stop a life insurance company from putting those who fail to stay active on a blacklist of sorts, which is akin to the experience of having a low credit score.

Stashed in: Privacy does not exist.

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What we need is a full fledged rebellion against insurance companies. 

Please SOMEBODY disrupt this industry!

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