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

    by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:44AM (#30192900)

    That's a reason to destroy the greatest healthcare system in the free world?

          How does Cuba come into this?

          You think I'm joking, but for the dollars invested per capita, Cuba has the greatest health care system in the world. Look it up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:47AM (#30192918)

    what do you mean locked down ? i used to work for a PI and we had access to everyones profiles all the time. facebook does not restrict information if you are a corp with a PI license. you dont need to friend anyone. its incredibly convenient. see the facebook tos :
    We may also share information when we have a good faith belief it is NECESSARY TO PREVENT FRAUD or other illegal activity, to prevent imminent bodily harm, or to protect ourselves and you from people violating our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, courts or other government entities.

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:48AM (#30192930) Homepage
    Luckily, I've not really felt the need to add relatives to Facebook. It's mainly people I know from various forums and they don't know much more mainly because I wouldn't be silly enough to mention something like my employer's name on something like Facebook.

    I think something like Facebook can be good but too many people think it's private. If you view it as never being private then you're probably going to be fine.
  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:53AM (#30192954) Homepage Journal

    If Facebook photos are the standard by which we're judging whether or not people should be paid insurance claims for being depressed, I wonder if I can use that?

    No, I'm not depressed. I mean, I have ups and downs like everyone else, but I don't think it's so severe to be classified as a medical condition. Still, I could certainly churn out a few photos when I'm feeling down one day and post them. Then maybe I could call my insurance company and tell them, "See? I'm depressed! It's right there on Facebook!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:21AM (#30193106)

    So you know what, fuck you Manulife. You are in no situation to reverse a doctors' diagnosis based on some pictures you found on the internet.

    So if I get a doctors note for a sore back but Manulife have pictures of me enjoying a football match then they have no right to reverse the doctors' diagnosis?
    I agree that Manulife are in the wrong here- but think it's going a bit far to suggest that an insurance company has to take every doctors opinion as law. I for one am glad of the proactive methods these insurance companies are taking to root out fraudsters that are upping my premiums. Too far in this case obv., but this is an exception to the rule.

  • Re:Well yes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:29AM (#30193156) Journal

    I accepted that argument the first time about mammograms. It sounded reasonable that they based their recommendation on science.

    I did Not accept that argument the second time.

    Especially since the second time mirrors so exactly that story from the UK about the college-aged woman being denied a PAP smear, and then dying as a result of the undetected cancer. They DO ration care in the UK - there's no denying the obvious.

  • Re:Not Surprising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RealGrouchy (943109) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:49AM (#30193288)

    I'd love to hear the insurance provider, in court, try to prove that said picture actually had been taken within the past six months.

    The insurance company has all the power. All they have to do is cancel your insurance, citing the photos. It's up to you to haul them to court, which would likely take a lawyer costing a lot more than $250.

    - RG>

  • Re:Not Surprising (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joebagodonuts (561066) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {lnrkmc}> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:58AM (#30193358) Homepage Journal
    "were just looking for any reason to have to stop forking over pay." And therein lies an issue. I pay them to "fork over pay" when I need it. Period. They advertise such a product and sell it to me. This is an example of bait-and-switch, and all too common. I'm buying health-care insurance. I didn't buy a "chance to maximize profits for the shareholders and executives of a publicly traded company".

    There is quite a bit of money to be made as an insurance provider. Enough that it would be attractive even if it wasn't publicly traded. A turn-a-profit-at-all-costs attitude doesn't serve the customer. Capitalism uber alles doesn't seem to serve me as well as I thought it would when I was younger...
  • by Delkster (820935) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:01AM (#30193380)

    And if I were the insurer, I would question that if someone is functioning well enough to go on vacation, to go out to a bar with friends, etc... is ready to go back to work.

    If I were the insurer, I might do the same, but only because it would be in my selfish interest. It would still be either ignorant or dishonest and shouldn't be allowed.

    As many others have already pointed out in various ways, a majorly depressed person can easily have a good moment. The thing is, even if she has a good moment of 15 minutes, the rest of the 23 h 45 mins of the day she might still be disfunctional. She might even have decently good full days if her friends take her for a trip and get her involved in a lot of fun stuff, making her forget about her problems for a moment. That doesn't make it last or mean that she'd be fine or able to function normally in normal everyday life. That makes a major difference. Depression may not make you unable to laugh at a joke, but that doesn't make it any less of a problem -- you can't live laughing at a joke all the time.

    Of course major depression tends to come with major drop in motivation to do anything, so you might think something requiring arrangements such as a vacation might be out of reach for a majorly depressed person. After all, she'd have to find the motivation to get through the arrangements, choosing a place and activities etc. to actually get out for a vacation, right? Well, maybe she just has good caring friends who arranged it for her.

  • by Narpak (961733) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:05AM (#30193418)

    So you know what, fuck you Manulife. You are in no situation to reverse a doctors' diagnosis based on some pictures you found on the internet.

    Agreed. I wonder what that company would do with someone with say a bipolar disorder. "Oh he was exceptionally cheerful and friendly; therefore he can't possible have crippling depressive phases." Speaking from experience I can say that depression, at least in my personal experience and from dialogue with family members with a similar affliction, comes in varying intensity at sometimes random intervals. And during the summer months is it generally easier to have a prolonged positive phase, while during the winter the depressive phases can be harder to deal with.

    A cousin of mine killed himself at the age of nineteen; it came as a total surprise to everyone except his absolutely closes friends and relatives "he always seemed like he was in such a good mood" someone said about him afterwards. Society seems to pressure people into hiding these types of problems, or at least people with these types of problems tend to keep them to themselves. One of the very worst things that can happen is to not be believed, or have people belittle what they don't understand.

    I have no personal knowledge of this particular case, but this kind of shit from the Insurance Company in question can only add to problems that are already bad enough. Personally I hope the Canadian authority shaft this company hard.

  • by Alef (605149) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:08AM (#30193452)

    There have been several cases in Sweden were the insurance companies have been spying on the beneficiaries video taping them, then hired a doctor to claim that the person is healthy. The problem is, there are many doctors, and you can always find one that will disagree with the first one.

    If what you are suggesting is going to work, you would at least need some formalized appeals process, perhaps with government hired doctors from every medical field, that can review the cases from a neutral point of view.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:13AM (#30193488) Journal
    The insurance company knows full well they'd be in serious trouble if they used a claim of "you look happy so can't be depressed". They know depression is a medical condition.

    Here's what I think happened; a co-worker got annoyed with her being on sick leave for such a long time. She grabbed some photos from facebook and sent them to the insurance company with an email saying "See! She's not depressed". The insurance company thought there was probably justification for some sort of investigation. They investigated. They pulled the medical records and their doctor decided that based on the objective evidence there was no reason she was still entitled to sick pay.
  • by lordsid (629982) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:17AM (#30193516)

    The parent wasn't complaining about the insurance companies being robbed. It is your co-workers who pay for your insurance when you cannot. If enough people are so "depressed" that they can't work the insurance company will adjust its rates if it continues long enough. That is exactly why your insurance goes up, because your company is costing the insurance company more to cover you.

    While I agree an insurance company has no business using Facebook for determining a case they do have the right to investigate fraud. Keep in mind insurance companies have a whole slew of their own "trusted" professionals that are on their pay role and look after their best interest, not the insured's.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:39AM (#30193696) Journal

    Cancer is a "simple" disease, not a mental condition. Why do you link the two?

    Insurance agents ARE often experts in the field they insure. How else would they do their job? Car insurers know a LOT about cars, that is what they do. They collect as much data as they can and then determine what premium to charge so they can still make a profit by insuring against risks. And one part of it is knowing when a claim is bogus. Don't try to claim seagulls ruined the paint job on your car, in the mountains. Do not claim damage from hail unless you are certain hail did indeed fell in your parking spot, because they DO know. It is their job.

    Depression is a very difficult mental diagnosis and people have been known to lie. This woman did NOT just go to ONE special event, but several, in a short time frame. When does depression end and just feeling blue start? When do YOU pay more for your insurance to cover someone else? Oh, that is right. YOU are paying for this woman and the moment YOUR premium goes up, you are crying the company check more carefully.

    I could easily create an insurance company that is very nice and kind and considerate, you would also pay through the nose to be insured by it. Want to bet that you don't, that you go for the cheapest possible? Well, then this is how they do it, by investigating claims.

    No doubt this will go to court. Sometimes insurance companies get it very wrong, but then, they have calculated the risks of that too and they seem to think that they have the edge here. Nothing I have seen so far convinces me they are wrong. All we got is two stories, why do you automatically presume this woman isn't running a scam?

  • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:02PM (#30193870) Homepage

    I've been on antidepressants. When one worked well for me, I was not an emotional zombie. The depression made me an emotional zombie, and the antidepressants helped that.

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

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:16PM (#30193998) Journal

    >>>Yeah, because the World Health Organization bases its studies on opinion.

    Yes. Just the same way the supposedly "unbaised" scientists lied about their climate results - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125883405294859215.html?mod=googlenews_wsj [wsj.com] ("A partial review of the emails shows that in many cases, climate scientists revealed that their own research wasn't always conclusive. In others, they discussed ways to paper over differences among themselves in order to present a "unified" view"). EVERYBODY has a bias or agenda even the folks over at the WHO (who are pro-government-provided healthcare). You can not trust them. As I said before, don't just swallow the WHO's opinion. Look at the data and draw you own conclusions.

    I have. I decided if I get cancer or otherwise ill, I'd rather be in the United States. My odds of (1) detection and (2) survivial are higher HERE than anywhere else in the world.

    >>>Please excuse me if I'm not impressed.

    Well then why don't you provide alternate data that shows how UK hospitals (for example) makes people more well than Americans. And don't quote unrelated stats like lifespan, which are caused by lifestyle (americans live dangerous somewhat accident-prone lives), and nothing to do with the quality of the hospitals.

  • by iamhassi (659463) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:18PM (#30194012) Journal
    "You are in no situation to reverse a doctors' diagnosis based on some pictures you found on the internet."

    Yep. Giant and easily winnable lawsuit in 3...2...1....

    Hell if we judged everyone by Facebook:
    --I'm a 26 yr old underwear model
    --I drive a Viper and vacation in Italy
    --My ex is a really nice girl
    --I spend 24 hrs a day playing Mafia Wars and Street Racing

    Obviously none of that is true
  • by vorpal22 (114901) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:50PM (#30194288) Homepage Journal

    If she can function at a bar, she can function at a desk.

    Clearly, you have never suffered from depression. Even though she's at the bar appearing functional, keep in mind that that may have been the first time she was able to leave the house in weeks.

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

    by sjames (1099) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @01:18PM (#30194566) Homepage

    My guess would be because the cure rates above are based on those who get treatment at all. Those who don't aren't counted. Only one of the systems listed above has people not get treatment once symptoms become apparent.

    That and a carefully chosen ailment. Prostate cancer is generally slow. Watchful waiting is often advised for older patients.By the time it might cause death it will be a race between that and other ailments. If you're in the U.S. you'll get heroic (and expensive) efforts to make sure it's one of the other conditions that kills you (a month or 2 later while your quality of life sucks from the cancer treatment). It's a matter of having 3 more decent months of life or 5 more crappy months.

    As for the wait times, in the U.S. if you are uninsured or your condition is "pre-existing", the wait time is effectively forever.

  • by Majik Sheff (930627) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @02:52PM (#30195274) Journal

    You're right on the money here.

    When a person resolves to end it, there's a sense of relief; something to look forward to. It's perverse but having experienced it first-hand I can tell you its very true. I'd likely not be here if I had been living alone at the time.

    One of the first things that comes back when you start taking antidepressants is your motivation. You still have the suicidal thoughts, but now you have the motivation and energy to go through with it.This is one of the reasons antidepressants are so dangerous to adolescents and kids. You combine motivation, negative outlook, and the impulsive nature of youth and you end up with a massive spike in suicides/attempts during the first months of antidepressant therapy.

  • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @04:43PM (#30196162)

    Except that the doctor shortage is not a function of universal health care, it's a function of the self-regulated medical profession maintaining control over how many doctors are certified every year. They keep the numbers down, so everyone has to scramble for a doctor, and the doctors can pick and choose patients. If the gov stepped in and mandated more seats in medical schools, there would be more doctors and less of a shortage.

    The Canadian system isn't perfect, hell it isn't even very good, but it covers everybody, and it's more than twice as efficient as the current US system. But hey, if you enjoy the taste of the shit that the insurance companies feed you, by all means, keep right on eating it.

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