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

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 Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @08:55AM (#30192642)
    First question, is she sure it was actually locked down? Some of those settings sound like nonsense to the non-technical.
    Second, is she the one that posted the photos? If someone else posted photos of her on a public page, anyone can see them.
    • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @08:56AM (#30192656) Journal

      Second, is she the one that posted the photos? If someone else posted photos of her on a public page, anyone can see them.

      Exactly, and because of tag-a-person-in-photo feature it's quite easy to find the photos too.

      She said her insurance agent described several pictures Blanchard posted on the popular social networking site, including ones showing her having a good time at a Chippendales bar show, at her birthday party and on a sun holiday — evidence that she is no longer depressed, Manulife said.

      This is evidence that she is no longer depressed? Depression is a lot deeper thing than that. Obviously you have happy moments and can smile on birthday party or on holiday. But in no way that mean that you really feel good and like that always. And I think you're supposed to try to have fun, so that said depression would actually go away.

      "We can't ignore it, wherever the source of the information is," she said. "We can't ignore it."

      Like a depressed person wants to always show everyone that she is depressed? Facebook isn't a complete picture in to your life. It is what the person posts there, and usually people like to make themself look good and not like a depressed wreck.

      • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:32AM (#30192824)

        Like a depressed person wants to always show everyone that she is depressed? Facebook isn't a complete picture in to your life. It is what the person posts there, and usually people like to make themself look good and not like a depressed wreck.

        My best friend and my brother have both had severe depression problems. It is quite possible to be out and functioning at moderate levels of depression - talking, smiling, looking like you're enjoying yourself. I think one described it something like this:

        I was standing there having a conversation, smiling and laughing, while thinking about different ways I could kill myself to get out of that situation.

        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.

        • by elecmahm ( 1194167 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:58AM (#30192976)
          I don't have severe depression, but that old black beast does occasionally roll around on me. At my worst time I would appear completely normal, and occasionally even have brief periods where I could smile and laugh. It just doesn't last though, when you're depressed. Shame on the insurance company, though. I think the most appropriate recourse would be to find the executives names on the annual report, look them up, and start rooting through their trash, and post anything embarassing found in a public place. Maybe even follow them around with a camera and record every little thing they do. If they want to invade privacy that much, then fair's fair.
        • by Alef ( 605149 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:31AM (#30193166)
          Exactly. The only effect this is going to have is that depressed people stay at home, never go to parties or beaches and make sure never to smile where they could be seen (in Sweden we have even had cases were insurance companies even hired private investigators hiding in the bushes with cameras). How is that for being counter-productive? One would think the insurance company would be interested in the person recovering. Isn't it a good thing she gets out in positive environments and tries to enjoy herself?
          • by hkmarks ( 1080097 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:18AM (#30193532)

            Absolutely. If she's depressed, going to parties and taking a holiday is only going to get her healthy faster. Staying home and moping will only make her depression worse. Antidepressants and having fun are roughly equally effective, and work far better together.

            (Not that plenty of people don't scam the system.)

          • by Clover_Kicker ( 20761 ) <> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:20AM (#30193540)

            One would think the insurance company would be interested in the person recovering.

            The insurance company doesn't care if you live or die, so long as they don't have to pay out.

          • by m.ducharme ( 1082683 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:19PM (#30194024)

            Insurance companies hiring private investigators to spy on their clients is fairly common in Canada, where the payout looks like it's going to be long-term or the client seems a little suspicious. It's kind of a "dirty tricks" thing to do, but it's not entirely unjustified, depending on the illness, and the circumstances. For example, since we brought in contingency fee arrangements, auto insurance lawsuits have increased dramatically, and claims for things like chronic pain syndromes and whiplash are skyrocketing. One reason Insurance companies pay for surveillance (and they do pay, it's not cheap) is that they often do catch people faking illness or injury.

            The irony is, of course, that depression is not one of the illnesses that people are likely to fake. There's still a strong stigma around mental illness here in Canada (and the US as I'm sure you can tell from the comments here) and people will go out of their way to avoid being diagnosed with depression or any other mental illness. To further compound the irony, the "chronic pain syndromes"* that so many people suffer from are quite often symptoms of depression. But the sufferer refuses to acknowledge even being depressed, so the doctors are limited to treating the symptoms (and eventually enabling an oxycontin habit).

            My experience with Insurance companies has been that most of them will pay out on medically supported depression claims for a certain amount of time (probably up to 2 years) and after that time they'll start snooping on the client; the rationale being that after two years, the client should have found a treatment that works.

        • 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 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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Hognoxious ( 631665 )

            I wonder what that company would do with someone with say a bipolar disorder.

            Half the time they pay up, half the time they send a mailbomb?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by iamhassi ( 659463 )
          "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 TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:35AM (#30192846) Journal

        A cancer patient might be rather sick, but make an extra effort for special events.

        What next? They're going to cancel insurance for cancer patients if they look like they're better?

        An insurance agent is unlikely to be an authoritative expert on medical matters (or in the rarefied field of "psychiatric diagnosis via facebook photos") - they may know some stuff (just like I do), but when it comes to a court case or other legal stuff it should not be their call to make. If the insurance company has doubts they should insist that the policy holder be examined by a certified expert in the relevant field. After all, it's not unusual that you have to go for a medical examination when you sign up for certain sorts of insurance. They don't just leave it to an insurance agent to say "hmm she looks ok to me".

        Too bad if her case is genuine she'll likely be too depressed to sue them (unless she can afford her meds and is still taking them).
        • 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 c

        • 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 digitalchinky ( 650880 ) 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.

    • by dmbasso ( 1052166 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:23AM (#30192776)

      Nah, probably it was a female "friend" that handed her pictures to the insurance company.

      That reminded me of a joke where a man calls every of his wife's female friends, asking each one if she had slept over with them, and receives the same "no, not here" answer. Another night the reverse happens, and the wife call's every of her husband male friends. Everyone answer "yes, he was here all night" and five of them even responds "he's still here, in the bathroom"! :-)

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Bullshit. I actually worked for Facebook for a while recently, and even employees don't have this kind of access.
        • 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 ) <> 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.

    • by RichardJenkins ( 1362463 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:57AM (#30193350)

      I'm more interested in knowing how a picture of someone smiling invalidates an insurance claim for depression?

      * Miserable people can smile and look cheerful
      * Miserable people can go to the beach
      * People suffering from atypcial depression (Most people who suffer from depression do, despite the name) CAN actually be cheerful, and still be suffering from the illness.

      Last medical history I gave didn't involve facebook. It isn't a medical diagnostic tool.

      I'm outraged - and I'm not going to read the article in case it explains these points satisfactorily.

  • 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 JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:18AM (#30192764)

      And you are hardly going to be post pictures of when you're unhappy, and people tend to smile just for photos, so you get a selective image of someone.

      • 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.

      • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:36AM (#30192850) Journal

        So will this new "no denial for existing conditions" Congressional law stop this stuff from happening? I hope so. I understand insurance companies need to watch out for fraudsters, but they should have more evidence than "we saw her smiling" to deny coverage.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have suffered from depression at some times in my life.

      I found that you 'put on a face' sometimes to live a normal life. People around you don't want to see people with a miserable expression, talking in a depressive way and acting depressed all the time.

      The way we appear look socially is virtually never a direct reflection of the way we really feel, for anyone, depressed or not. We choose how much of what we really feel we communicate to others. If this were not the case then it would be impossible even

    • 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!"

  • Well yes... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gordonjcp ( 186804 )

    ... because people with depression must wear black on the outside, as black as they feel on the inside.

    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.

    • by MoeDumb ( 1108389 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:05AM (#30192700)
      "Yet another reason why private healthcare must be stopped." That's a reason to destroy the greatest healthcare system in the free world? Where are mod points when you need them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        >>>"Yet another reason why private healthcare must be stopped."

        Why? So we can switch to a government system where they ration care, like sayng, "Raise the mmamogram age from 40 to 50," and "We don't need annual PAP smears. Every three years is good enough." That last one really bother me because it reminds me of the story from the UK, where a college aged woman was told "no" every time she asked for a PAP smear *even though he grandmother and mother* had cervical cancer, and therefore she was h

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Nuskrad ( 740518 )
          Or possibly, it's because the scientific [] evidence shows that reducing the screening age doesn't make much difference in reducing cancer rates, and the number of false positives at younger ages means that more people would have to go through lots of unnecessary stress and months of tests and unnecessary, potentially harmful treatments. It doesn't have anything to do with money.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by u38cg ( 607297 )
          Please do not attempt to argue your point by using selected stories. I can assure you I can dig up as many horror stories due to the use of private medical care as from public. You may be right, but you would be better off citing statistical outcomes and population data. For any large population there will be a small number of individuals whose experience is many, many standard deviations away from the norm.

          The purpose of NICE is not to deny care, but to study the cost-benefit ratio of treatments. If

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

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

          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.

      • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

      Curing people doesn't come into it - it's about keeping them sick enough to stay profitable.

      No, it's about taking the money of the healthy people and finding any excuse to get rid of the sick (cause they cost money). What you said doesn't make any sense.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pyrion ( 525584 ) *

        He's confusing insurance companies with pharmaceutical companies. Insurance companies want you to stay as healthy as possible requiring as few doctor's visits, treatments and prescriptions as possible for them to stay profitable. Pharmaceutical companies want you to stay as sick as possible while only providing marginal, long-term treatment (almost never a flat-out "cure") for them to stay profitable.

    • 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.

  • Suppose she has friended coworkers who know that she is collecting disability pay for depression but is posting party pics. Or suppose that the pics were posted by others who have not limited access to them. If she is tagged and the photos aren't actively blocked to outside viewers, they are fair game.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by mutube ( 981006 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:02AM (#30192686) Homepage

    I guess she's feeling pretty depressed right now. Does that mean she can have the insurance back?

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:05AM (#30192704) Homepage
    Facebook has so many little loopholes and you can be sharing information without realising it. I know a few people who think their accounts are locked down andyou can't view anything from their profile page. However their photo albums show up in other areas even if you can access it from their profile page. I assume they've not set the right settings for that particular album.

    This is why I don't use my real name on Facebook or use my exact location. It may mean friends, relatives, etc find it harder to find me but if I want to speak to them then I'll look for them.
  • Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aldenissin ( 976329 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:06AM (#30192708)

    Evil insurance company, plain and simple. I am not saying that they all are, but this is beyond grasping at straws. This is healing someone because they are sick, and them kicking them to the curb and throwing them out because they show signs of recovery. She should sue them for making the depression worse. We should get together and figure out how to draw enough attention to put a stop to this, and make an example for other insurance companies.

      This is a prime example why I don't think capitalism alone has all of the answers. If A needs B and C to prosper, and C needs A & B, A will rape B dry until C is so bad off that it is also hurting A. How does this make sense?

  • Not Surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:07AM (#30192712) Journal

    She also doesn’t understand how Manulife accessed her photos because her Facebook profile is locked and only people she approves can look at what she posts.

    Oh, please, you're talking to a generation that grew up watching Dateline and 20/20 where insurance companies hired private investigators to stalk people who would do the following:

    1. Bring a flask of water or oil into Walmart or some supermarket.
    2. Covertly empty it onto the floor.
    3. Come back minutes later to 'slip' on said spill.
    4. Sue the hell out of the store and claim crazy grief and pain charges in court.

    So then you'd see the companies hiring PIs to track the people (who allegedly could barely move) tearing it up at Disney World. Yeah, scam artists and fraudsters.

    You shouldn't be surprised to see insurance companies being very proactive in their searches to follow up on people. I cannot say whether or not she is legitimately getting the short end of the stick or if she's defrauding the company. Sounds like the former. If she had made claims that she never smiled and couldn't go out in public due to depression then she might have problems. Why doesn't she just get her doctor to send a note to her insurance company explaining that people suffering from this magnitude of depression (and those recovering from it) can force themselves to smile for a picture? I mean, it's likely that the insurance company got tired of paying sick leave for depression unless it could be shown to be a chemical imbalance they probably were just looking for any reason to have to stop forking over pay.

    Personally, I was offered $250 by my company's health insurance plan if I signed something that said I had not used tobacco products in the past 6 months. I hadn't but a few years ago I had (what I was told) were Cuban cigars in Mexico. Those friends put pictures of me on Facebook smoking them. So what? Well, if they found contrary evidence to my claim, I faced having my insurance terminated. Not worth the $250. Be aware of what Facebook puts on display for the world--even if you think it's private it's usually not. I mean, it could be as inane as some coworker who doesn't like her sees her other friend at work tagged in a photo with 'depressed' coworker on leave and decided to copy what photos they could see and forward them on to the insurance company?

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

      by joebagodonuts ( 561066 ) <> 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 Xeleema ( 453073 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:07AM (#30192714) Homepage Journal

    after her insurance provider found photos of her on Facebook smiling and looking cheerful at parties and out on the beach....

    Well, she was on benefits because she was diagnosed as depressed, and it's already been said that any psychiatrist worth their salt will tell you to get yourself out there and at least *try* to have a good time.

    But seriously, this is a bit out of hand, hasn't anyone at her insurance carrier ever had a picture taken? What does the photographer usually scream at you?


  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @09:14AM (#30192750)

    I think this could rebound terribly (and rightfully) on the insurer.
    The worst thing for a clinical depression is to stay closeted away. In the UK, there is no "social prescribing", where a GP may decide that the root of your troubles are a social disconnection. This disconnect raises stress, and is a sizable aspect in depression.
    Rather than pump people full of antidepressants, they prescribe you a visit to a local social group that is ratified as being suitable for this (can be activity groups, plain social groups, heading to a gym, or whatever would best fit the person that's available).
    This has had marked benefits to many that use the service.
    Depression is always a fight, and when you fight it best, there's always a time that you smile. It may not last for long, but every point you can laugh and be brought out is an absolute gem. And there's no surprise that mates will take a pic of you when you're smiling and paste it on Facebook, rather than ones of you looking glum and disconnected.
    One of those gems, for me, was years ago, just after my brother had had a massive car smash that left him on life support. One of my friends had first been blunt (there's nothing you can do, so get on with life while this goes on and things work themselves out), then actually managed to get me out and make me laugh. For just a minute; epic effort on his part, but it gave me a moment's respite, for which I'm eternally grateful.
    Now, if anyone had dared to say to me in that minute or two of respite that I wasn't upset, torn up and terrified, I'd have torn them several new ones, and stomped on the pieces until the men in white coats dragged me off.
    Smiling pictures of a depressive are not evidence they're not depressed. They're evidence that they have a good support network of people who are prepared to do the heavy emotional lifting to keep them going..
    Cutting the insurance is going to make anyone depressive (or recovering depressive) fall far back down the treatment path..
    Wouldn't be surprised to find this one in litigation sometime soon.

  • This is a HUGE part of the current problem in the States with health insurance. Health insurance companies are not doctors. You can't make a diagnosis by looking at pictures on someone's facebook account. They teach you that in medical school, I think. I'm all for the public option myself, and I hope it puts the health insurance companies out of business. Frankly, I think anyone who works for an organization as corrupt as an American health insurance company, has it coming, because nobody who works for one
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by zippthorne ( 748122 )

      Yeah, we should pattern our health care system on Canada's. That way we won't get situations like what affected this Quebec woman.

  • 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.

  • by log0n ( 18224 ) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @02:17PM (#30195004)

    (there are a lot of stickywickets here and not enough details.. but reading between the lines and going with my gut based on my dealings.. this is my take)

    Everyone want to rant about the evils of health care and I agree with damn near all of it. But as someone who has dealt with depression for a couple of decades and with (actually pretty good) healthcare assistance, I'm inclined to think she's taking advantage of the system and deserves to be dropped.

    As I understand it, sick leave in Canada is paid sick leave (like maternity leave here in the US) which over insurance premiums. Sick leave is designed for medical recovery that would inhibit your ability to perform you job.

    Now believe me.. coping with depression can definitely include going to the beach and smiling for pictures, but by doing those things in the capacity mentioned in the article, she's demonstrating that she is in fact capable of doing tasks where she had previously claimed her depression would inhibit her job performance. As she's being paid, she's now defrauding the system.

    I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she is depressed. In her case, her sick leave is designed to allow her time to visit therapists, psychologists for medications, or even prolonged hospital visitation if required. She should be using the paid sick leave to take real advantage of her medical coverage.

  • 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.

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