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Insurers use data loophole to cut medical record costs

Life insurance brokerage Risk Assured says insurers are using a data protection loophole to get full medical records at reduced prices because the quality of GP medical reports are poor.

The Association of British Insurers and the British Medical Association formed an agreement in March 2010 that set the fee for insurers to get GP medical reports at £97. The agreement expired on March 31 and was not renewed.

Under the data protection act, people can access their full medical records for £10 and some insurers have been requesting that customers get this information on their behalf.

Risk Assured head of underwriting and claims Jerry Brown says: “GPs only have themselves to blame. Fees have doubled in seven years, yet average turn-round times and the quality of reports have deteriorated. It is hardly surprising that insurers have looked for alternative solutions to get this information.”

An ABI spokeswoman says: “The issue of accessing medical records is a matter for individual insurers and their customers.”

The BMA declined to comment on the issue.


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There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Quite agree, I have lost business because of doctors turnaround times. Where I know a doctors report will be required, now seriously considering paying the clients the £10, or even £20 to cover their time, and submitting this with an application.
    I have made a complaint to BMA about one doctor and they simply wash their hands of it.

  2. Enforced subject access as described here is illegal under the 1998 Data Protection Act

  3. It is not enforced it is an option available to the consumer/patient. If they dont want to pursue that route then they can go down the normal GPR route…

  4. I think it only applies to “records of cautions, criminal convictions and certain social security records relating to the data subject”…

  5. I had a client tell me his Dr said he would not provide insurers with medical reports. He did after getting paid handsomely, but failed to return all the information requested which took another month. What if the client ahd died by accident in the meantime? Whose fault is that?
    In answer to anon 9.12.11 4.58 – It is not “enforeced surely?” The client wanst their medical info in order to confirm what the Dr has stated their health to be on their medical records and then arrange insurance to cover the risk.
    The easiest thing would be to agree an industry standard medical report with basics only held on the data subject and do that for say £50 a time and give the insurer the option of underwriting based on that or requesting a more detailed PMAR or even MER dependant upon responses. It woudl eb a bit like the three options with mortgages, i.e. valuation for mortgage purposes, homebuyers report of full structural survey.
    None of us want Drs wasting time filling in medical reports, but we do need the informaiton provided efficiently and at fair cost.

  6. Phil Castle,

    Your idea about a £50 ‘industry standard medical report’ is sound in principle. The only problem is that most GPs complete these ‘basic’ reports when they are asked for detailed PMARs about a serious medical condition. And charge double the fee based on BMA advice.

  7. The ABI and BMA agreement was farcical at best, half of the ‘Gatekeeper’ medical receptionists have/had no idea of the content or relevance anyway and continued to fob off when we every called. On that note just had an interesting conversation with Friends Life who confirmed they had written to the doctor on 4 seperate occassions with no response (funnily enough I would have cottoned onto that after the first reminder was ignored) and told me that they do not verbally contact the surgery (even to check if they have received the GPR) until they have sent all of their allocated letters. Eh, not that this was the case but what if the doctoro as moved/passed on, or the address was incorrectly recorded by accident etc. Begs the question after all is said and done and the job as the advisor is done- Disclosure, Fact Find, Research, Presentation, Application, Suitability. A little help from the providers would be appreciated as surely it should not be up to the advisor (or advisors firm) to chase the requested medical information- it is the responsibilty of the provider to get the information THEY have requested. Bottom line is we as advisers (who perhaps can not affordard admin/paraplanners) are not paid on applications only completions and find ourselves chasing information that the providers request without any additional support from the providers who generally make the most money out of the policy on average!

  8. So Bobby,

    You’ve based that opinion on one phone call with one provider?

  9. Depends on what opinion that you mean? The fact the BMA/ABI agreement is a waste of time?- based on several coversations with others who have had nothing back from raising any issues with the BMA ,or the opinion that we should be helped rather than hindered by the provider chasing THEIR further information letter? If it is the latter then yes it is based on one phonecall- And that one phonecall outlined the providers attitude to ALL my cases (and your cases for that matter) and how they will treat them-

  10. Complaining in the financial press and blaming doctors doesn’t help.

    Most doctors are helpful.Some give a lousy service,but that’s not new and don’t forget they might be busy treating the sick.

    £10 is an insult-nobody should be surprised with the reaction!

    A fair fee will solve it.

  11. Anonymous,

    You’re right, £10 is an insult. An insult to the patient who shouldn’t have to pay ANYTHING to access their own medical records. Photocopying costs should be paid and nothing else.

    And as regards a ‘fair fee’, the last officially agreed fee of £89.00 between the ABI and BMA, for completion of a GPR, represented an increase of more than double cost to the insurer over the last 10 years. And to my reckoning that’s far above inflation. Surgeries are now demanding £100 regularly as a nice rounded figure.

    Printouts with unexplained scant info with no GP insight or comment, are on the rise, and are just printed off by the surgery secretary, signed by the GP and sent to the provider. 5 minutes and a nice payment of £100, thanks very much.

    Fair? No.
    Solution? No.

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