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Facebook Photos Lead To Cancellation of Quebec Woman's Insurance 645

Posted by timothy
from the public-option dept.
No. 24601 writes "A Quebec woman on long-term sick leave, due to a diagnosis of depression, lost her health benefits after her insurance provider found photos of her on Facebook smiling and looking cheerful at parties and out on the beach. Besides all the obvious questions, how did the insurance company access her locked Facebook profile?"
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Facebook Photos Lead To Cancellation of Quebec Woman's Insurance

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 22, 2009 @08:55AM (#30192648)

    *sigh* Well, speaking as a depressive I can say that a good part of the treatment that a psychiatrist suggests to their patients, besides their antidepressants, is to engage in social activities outside the home. They also say that staying cooped up at home and failing to get out can lead to a relapse and readmission to hospital. The Insurance company is not licensed to practice medicine, only to read a doctor's diagnosis and pay what's due.

  • by Tim C (15259) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:33AM (#30192828)

    Not to mention that a very close friend of mine has serious depression (she's not so bad at the moment, but has been hospitalised for her own safety before), and she can sound absolutely fine on the phone in the morning, and be totally withdrawn and uncommunicative in the afternoon. She can also be on a serious downer, yet sound fine on the phone to other people - in other words, put a brave face on things.

  • Re:Well yes... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:40AM (#30192874)

    Yet another reason why private healthcare must be stopped. Curing people doesn't come into it - it's about keeping them sick enough to stay profitable.

          As a doctor I am disgusted by your remark. There's something called the Hippocratic Oath, you know. Insurance companies also have a vested interest in insuring only healthy people. Now I can't vouch for our cousins in the pharmaceutical industry who have ALWAYS been about the money, and make no allusions otherwise (hence their use of the Caduceus - the staff of Mercury god of Business, rather than the Asclepius or "healing" staff we doctors use). After all, the ideal situation for them is for all patients to become chronic, pill taking customers.

          But those of us who actually provide the healthcare ONLY have the patient's full recovery in mind, when that's possible. The only thing we have to balance here is our own personal lives and time (doctors are people too - we have families, we have hobbies, and we get stressed - especially since most patients are ungrateful and we rarely hear the words "thank you" when we do our job well: we're just "expected" to do it). Being realistic, however, it's not always possible to "cure" everyone.

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:47AM (#30192916) Homepage Journal

    The women are brutally honest. The guys are covering for each other.

  • by Ruede (824831) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:51AM (#30192944)

    the male friends are real friends because they cover the ass of their friend that is supposedly in the bathroom of each of the 5 friend's. where at the same time the chicks dont do that for their female friend.

  • by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:56AM (#30192962)

    Just to expand on the tag a photo thing...

    If your profile is completely private to me, but not to someone in my friends list - and you happen to tag a common friend for both of us in one of your own galleries, then that'll show up on my wall - I click on the picture and get full access to that particular gallery. (Maybe there's an option to stop it doing that, but I currently see it happening every day)

    Profiles aren't really private anyway, if you know the full link to a particular image then you can view it regardless of user settings. Where to get such links? All over the place. Proxy, cache, etc.

  • In my experience, (Score:4, Informative)

    by JRHodel (242257) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:56AM (#30192966)

    people with depression, even deep depression, can smile, laugh, and be outgoing right up until the moment they commit suicide.

    It's part of the syndrome that they want to act like a natural, happy person, even if they're on a brink - no matter what. Many won't admit they're ill until fatal results happen.

    Insurance companies shouldn't have anything to do with diagnosis, they aren't qualified (not being doctors), and they have a conflict of interest, making money by denying illness. Frankly I think making money by denying health care to people is nearly as unethical as just shooting them up front.

  • Re:Well yes... (Score:5, Informative)

    by odourpreventer (898853) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:02AM (#30192996)

    > why people say the U.S. has the best healthcare in the world

    Then why is USA ranked 37th in the world, whereas UK is ranked 18th?

  • by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:10AM (#30193034) Homepage Journal

    Unless of course you argue that depression doesn't work that way.

    It doesn't. Everyone has periods of highs and lows. A person with major depressive disorder has highs, as seen on Facebook in this case, but the highs are so short and the lows so long and deep that they interfere with the patient's ability to function for a significant period of time.

  • Re:Well yes... (Score:1, Informative)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:54AM (#30193326) Journal

    Because those rankings are based upon OPINION, not science. Kinda like those broadband stats that *deliberately skew* the numbers to make the U.S. somewhere around 25th place, but the reality is far different. As the saying goes, "There's lies, damn lies, and statistics." Don't believe everything you hear. Draw your own conclusions: rather than just swallow what you hear.

    (1) Russian Federation 8.3 Mbit/s
    (2) U.S. 7.0
    (3) E.U. 6.6
    (4) Canada 5.7
    (5) Australia 5.1
    (6) China 3.0
    (7) Brazil 2.1
    (8) Mexico 1.1 Mbit/s

    More stats about healthcare:

    OVERALL SURVIVAL RATE
    WOMEN-American - 63; European - 56%
    MEN - American 66%; European 47% (The best is Sweden at just 61% - the UK is only 45%)

    PREVENTATIVE CARE
    regular annual pap smears - American - 85%; British - 58%
    regular annual mammograms - American - 84%; British - 63%; Australia; Canada; New Zealand - 69%


    I could fill-up these whole page with stats showing how U.S. care is superior to worldcare, but I'm tired of typing. Here's a link:
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=U.S.+survival+rate&aq=f&oq=&aqi= [google.com]

  • by Clover_Kicker (20761) <clover_kicker@yahoo.com> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:45AM (#30193740)

    As stated in a dozen comments in this topic, the article is about disability insurance to replace wages, not about access to health care.

    If this person ends up a destitute bag lady, she'll still be covered by the Canadian universal health care system.

  • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:53AM (#30193786)

    This particular story is out of Canada, different health-care system, different incentives.

  • by Archon-X (264195) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:58AM (#30193830)

    Side note: Not all depression meds are 'hard'.
    Check out something like Zoloft, which works to balance the level of seratonin, to work to fix the problem, as opposed to a med that simply 'props' you up.
    I had similar issues years ago, found Zoloft was a good fit for a few reasons:
    1) As mentioned above, it helps fix the cause, not the symptoms
    2) Taking anti-depressives is depressing. Taking one you know won't fuck you up helps lessen the blow.

    Chat to a sensible doctor. There may be something that fits you.

  • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:27PM (#30194100)

    I have some experience working with Insurance companies (in Ontario), and I can say that usually, if they're paying out on a depression claim, they do so with a certain amount of good grace, up to a point. If treatment goes on longer than, say two years, the company is going to get suspicious and nosy, on the grounds that after two years the patient should have found a treatment that works and be on the road to recovery. Depression is a treatable illness.

    This woman will either have an option to appeal the insurance company's decision, or sue them for the money. If all the company has is a few Facebook photos, they're not going to get very far against her. If, on the other hand, she's been depressed for 3 or 4 years, has been treated by her doctor and seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist for all those years, and she's still not better, they'll have a somewhat stronger case.

  • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:48PM (#30194270)

    Keep in mind that this is a Canadian woman, so her insurance is going to look different than what you're used to. She's being insured privately for the time she misses from work, not for the treatment of the depression. The depression treatment is covered under her provincial health care. Here in Ontario that would mean she's covered for her doctor's appointments, regular appointments with a psychiatrist, access to free counseling if she's near a Community Mental Health Centre, and if she can't afford her meds there's a public drug plan with a $200/year deductible. I would imagine that Quebec's health coverage is better than Ontario's, and she might get her drugs covered %100 there.

    The private insurer (depending on what kind of insurance it is) would cover a percentage of her lost income, travel to and from medical appointments as needed including travel to out-of-town clinics or treatment centres, etc.

    As for whose call it is, you're right. Generally the Insurance companies won't cut payments unless the patient has been non-compliant with treatment or they have a doctor's opinion supporting their position that she's better/should be better/faking. In this instance (I guess, I haven't RTFA) either they have other evidence or their jumping the gun.

  • by ubrgeek (679399) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:54PM (#30194320)
    As much as I think "there, fixed it for you" comments are moronic this time I had to: "Depression is usually a treatable illness." I have an aunt who has been suffering with post-partum depression for more than 15 years. She's gone through treatment. She's tried dozens of medications. She goes through the highs and lows that I guess are not uncommon with depression, but the highs rarely last. Thus far, treatment hasn't been able to do anything.
  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:56PM (#30194356) Homepage
    You're correct, ALL employees do not have this access. Given you worked there for "a while", I highly doubt you would've fallen into the category of those who do have that access. I can assure you that Facebook has the ability to give the proper authority any and all access to anyone's account hey so choose.

    The receptionist at a bank doesn't have access to everyone's accounts. The teller does. I'm not sure why you would be surprised that access is granted on a need-to-have-it basis at facebook, just like most every other successful business in the US.
  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmail. c o m> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @01:22PM (#30194596) Homepage

    Bullshit. I've got my PI license in Ontario. Why? Because it was an extra $80 on top of my $80 for my security licence and you'd be stupid not to pay for it. I don't get any special perks and I still have to follow every single law in existence in Ontario, and the rest of Canada. In fact they sent me an extra special booklet saying what I can, and can't do.

    Having a PI licence does not entitle you to violate the law. You're just a normal citizen with an extra bit of paper up here, with more responsibility, being even more closely monitored.

  • Re:Well yes... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjames (1099) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @01:25PM (#30194624) Homepage

    Care is rationed in the U.S. as well, only the rationing doesn't necessarily take actual need (statistical or otherwise) into account. For every case like the U.K. woman you mention, there's several more where an under-insured American didn't see a doctor at all until too late because it was just too expensive.

    The U.K. has nice, we have "insurance adjusters" whose job is to find excuses for not paying.

  • by rochberg (1444791) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @01:50PM (#30194822)

    According to the article, she'd been on leave for a year and a half since being diagnosed. Then her payments just stopped coming with no notification. She had to call the company to find out why, and, at that point, they informed her that she was doing well enough to work. In response to the article, the company put out a written statement that they do not cancel policies based solely on Facebook.

    Either there's more to this case than what is being reported, or this company needs to get nailed to the wall.

  • guess who (Score:2, Informative)

    by thuerrsch (1442235) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @02:41PM (#30195198)

    On this picture [badische-zeitung.de] you see two members of the German national football (soccer) team. One of them killed himself on November 10th by leaping in front of a train, suffering from severe chronic depression. Guess which one.

    (You'll find the solution here [wikipedia.org]. If you picked the right answer, you may want to consider a career in insurance. I'd suggest this one [capitol-versicherung.com] for starters.)

  • by ethicalcannibal (1632871) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @02:49PM (#30195254)
    I'm not surprised a desk jockey at an insurance company decided to make a medical decision on this. Insurance desk monkeys don't usually have any medical training, and become a hindrance.

    I once had a patient come into the office. He was in near tears. I took him to the exam room, and found out that his insurance company (Molina in the US) had canceled his coverage for dialysis. He was a critically ill patient, and was panicking. I called the insurance to find out what was going on. I was told by the desk monkey that they did not cover 'elective' procedures. At this point I was incredulous. I tried a couple times to tell him dialysis was not a choice, and certainly not elective. No dice.

    I had to argue for close to an hour to get a supervisor. This flunky was going to cut all coverage to this man's dialysis. No if's, and's, or but's. The supervisor reversed the decision on the spot, but damn. Most nurses don't have the kind of day they can devote an hour of arguing with an insurance company. The patient isn't medically trained, and certainly wasn't in a state to do it, what with being critically ill, and coming to grips that he was not going to ever get off of dialysis.

    That's the worst of my experiences, but I can't say it was isolated. After ten years of nursing the episodes of crackpot crazy insurance company behavior just keeps happening more and more. It's not that uncommon.
  • by fyoder (857358) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @04:50PM (#30196196) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, Canada, where you can't even just switch doctors if the one you've got keeps failing to do his job. I'm not particularly against a semi-state funded healthcare system, but looking at the Canadian healthcare system I can completely understand why US citizens are so afraid of socialized healthcare.

    You've obviously never actually "looked" at the Canadian health care system, or you couldn't post such crap. You're just repeating right wing propaganda.

    The Canadian system isn't perfect, and there are real improvements which could be made to it. But apparently it's good enough that right wingers have to make up bullshit in order to sufficiently discredit it.

    Now excuse me, I have to attend a euthanasia board meeting to determine whether its time to terminate grandma.

  • Insurance Co's & PIs (Score:2, Informative)

    by dogeatery (1305399) on Monday November 23, 2009 @11:10AM (#30202212)

    My girlfriend and I previously have worked for a private investigation company concerned entirely with insurance fraud. There are many similar companies, but ours was a nationwide company with clients like Walmart, AIG, the Hartford, Prudential, GEICO and many others you can think of. Insurance co's will use any information they can get to deny your coverage, and they will take very extreme steps. Once an investigator followed a target to firefighter training and participated in a daylong course with a hidden camera showing the target hauling heavy gear and "injured" people.

    While there are many frauds out there, and the vast majority of cases in our company were almost certainly fraudulent, it's important to know that the VERY first thing they do is a regular Google/Facebook/Myspace search. It's amazing how many people don't keep their profiles privately viewable. (One pattern I noticed was a common tendency to use Myspace as proof of one's "coolness" and you don't want that private when there's a whole world who needs to know.)

    If you ever are on disability or making insurance claims that might LOOK shady, you should know that there will almost certainly be someone watching you from the street in a car with curtains on the windows. They will follow you across state lines, they will follow you to Walmart, they will follow you to the strip club and they will sit outside your house and photograph you when you come out to check the mail. The photos and videos will be presented to you in court, if not beforehand.

  • by Flere Imsaho (786612) on Monday November 23, 2009 @07:03PM (#30207714)

    I've struggled with depression in the past. One night I ended up getting as far as putting a length of hose into the car's exhaust and through the car window.

    The perverse thing was, the realisation that I could end my suffering any time I wanted actually saved me. Knowing that I had options removed the feeling that life was a never-ending shit sandwich, and gave me a sense of control over my life.

    That was several years ago, and whilst I still (very infrequently) have black days, knowing they are transient is a huge help. The world doesn't change, just how I perceive and react to it. Keeping that in mind is key for me, and allows me to break the iterative spiral before it drags me under.

    Anyhow, I just wanted to reinforce and agree with your ,and the parents, comments - a lot of people get that feeling of relief and still go through with it. Tidying up is another classic symptom - no-one wants to be remembered as a slob!

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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