Private hospitals are now consulting a secret medical credit score from Experian before you even see a doctor. As a patient you do not have access to this score, nor can you see how it is generated. All you know is that you may be denied care, or receive different care, because of it.

In our backward health care system, neither the hospitals nor Experian see any potential issue with this. It helps a hospital's bottom line and that's what counts. They're actually pretty excited about it:

I spoke with Ashley Reede, an information systems and privacy consultant, who worked with a private hospital in California as they were onboarding Experian's 'Financial Clearance' system. What she saw was quite upsetting and she wants people to know what's happening with their data.

"The revenue department came to me and said they were going to start sharing data with Experian," she says. "They wanted approval to send data from reception/patient admittance to Experian to check a medical credit score that's generated and assigned by Experian. Then Experian would send that score back to the hospital."

The Financial Clearance system combines medical records along with the financial records Experian already has on you to calculate the score. Since they have a network of hospitals reporting this kind of data, separate visits to different hospitals by a patient are no longer silo'd. There is now a number, that you can't see, that follows you wherever you go.

"The central issue is that we don't have any actual transparency on what's in the record," says Reede. "I can't see what this is being evaluated on."

And have you ever found anything inaccurate on your credit report? The process to get it expunged is so onerous that many people just leave the false item on the report. But at least in that case you can see what other people see. With this new, arguably more important score, it's secret.

"What if you paid a medical bill and now it's reported that you didn't?" says Reede. "You'd be totally unaware that you have a medical delinquency on your report. You have no recourse and you don't know what you don't know."

The Worst of a Bad Situation

Let's all keep in mind under what circumstances one would be approaching reception at a hospital. There is something wrong with your health, or the health of someone you love, and you're seeking medical care. Under these heightened circumstances, you now have to wait to see if a company thinks you're a good customer for them.

While Reede says this is likely not an issue for larger hospitals that have less financial pressure (although Kaiser Permanente uses this system), it's definitely appealing for smaller hospitals that will notice a hit to their finances if a patient defaults. She also points out that this is for private hospitals, not public.

Full article at link.


What could possibly go wrong?