back to article MIT boffins' code scans your health claims, tunes plans for bosses

A company spun out of MIT's research labs says it has developed analytics software that pores over employees' health insurance claims and tells bosses how to adjust their plans. The software from Benefits Science Technologies (BST) is designed to scan staff claims for patterns of illness, or identify common risks, and then …

  1. Graham Marsden

    "the BST software will seek out the patterns in treatment of employees...

    "...and then use that information to suggest how a company health plan could ensure that exclusions for these conditions are added when employees join to make sure that profits aren't affected..."


    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: "the BST software will seek out the patterns in treatment of employees...

      Very telling - no down votes as of 7.30 - yup we all know how it is going to go.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The US health insurance industry

    More broken than a very broken thing.

    Please never export that shit to civilised countries.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The US health insurance industry

      Don't worry, Ted Cruz will fix it up.

      1. Lysenko

        Re: The US health insurance industry

        "Health care" is a giant socialist scam. Ted knows that all you really need are kevlar knee pads.

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    On the other hand

    Won't insurers use the software (or a variant) to do targeted boosting of premiums to match an industry or large employer? It's an arms race.

  4. James 51 Silver badge

    Didn't Wall Mart get some bad publicity because they were taking live insurance out on employees that paid the company and not the spouse if the employee died while they were working for them?

    I can already think of a couple of different ways this can be abused. The US spends twice as much as the UK on health care but get the same or less for their money. That is not a system we need to copy or import.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Walmart are not the only company to use this type of insurance. It has been around for a long time. I would say that it represents moral jeopardy for any organisation that could benefit by judicially managing health benefits, but then scum like that would never consider such an action would they?

  5. graeme leggett

    Missing the obvious

    " when certain cancers or chronic conditions are on the rise in a company"

    Then you might want to look at your health and safety policies, your [American equivalent of COSSH] , and health monitoring programme before you get turning to the medical costs.

    see also

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Missing the obvious

      I can't upvote you enough. That is exactly why I came here to post after reading the article. Sod the dying people, let's try to save money on treatment. No thought given to prevention.

      A recent report put the UK pretty much at the bottom of the EU list for unemployment benefits, health benefits, annual leave/holiday, maternity and paternity leave etc. Compared to the US, the UK is a workers paradise.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is not how insurance should work...

    Insurance works by having lots of people (most who will never get ill/crash their car/have their house burn down) pay a little bit - and the money that piles up then goes to those that are unfortunate enough to be the odd ones out that something bad happens to (and the insurance companies get to take a cut- yay).

    Once you start insuring only those that are likely to have something bad happen to them, then those people will have to pay a lot more - until insurance no longer makes sense and everyone will just have to save up money in case they get cancer/fire/their legs get stolen.

    1. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: This is not how insurance should work...


      Umm. You missed a component in the equation:

      Wall Street insists that if your profit ratios did not grow by a greater percentage than they did the previous X quarters, then the company is now failing, and must suffer from having the stock price collapse. Thus, insurance now is about making massive profits. It has nothing to do with making *sense*

  7. Mike Lewis

    The next step

    The next step will be analytics software that pores over job seekers' health insurance claims and tells bosses whether or not to hire them.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: The next step

      In some application forms I've seen you're asked about absence from work over the last few years, back door way to ask about health they couldn't get away with up front.

      1. Peter Simpson 1
        Thumb Up

        Re: The next step

        Don't know about you, but I wouldn't be able to recall details like that. And that's what I'd put on the form: "I do not recall any"

        // Hey, it seems to work for politicians and corporate directors

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: The next step

          Do that in the good old days and you'd find your insurance canceled when you needed it. Before the ACA Insurance companies used to scrutinize expensive claimants just to see if there was a way to wriggle out of the claim. The ACA prevents them from using medical histories to deny insurance but I wouldn't be surprised if there was some other fine print in there that acted as a loophole.

  8. David Pollard


    It's noteworthy that the ability "to spot risk factors for certain conditions" and to "advise ... what preventive care could be used to catch a problem early" is treated as possible spin-off. Aren't these primary aspects of modern health care?

    1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: Spin-off?

      Actually, what we call "health care" should be called by it's proper name - sick care. This is no insult to the medical profession because when you're sick you need care and I'm damn glad it exists. A health care system would be one that keeps you from needing sick care. Things like getting exercise, not drinking toilet bowl cleaner, not eating not-food, etc. Problem is that a true health care system really cannot be monetized so we get sick care - a good thing that can be monetized (a bad thing in the wrong hands) foisted on us.

      The reason I'm being pedantic about this is because if we don't keep our terms straight we will end up calling basketballs 'ducks' and that can only lead to someone juggling little baby geese and calling it 'art'.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just read an article about how the NSA uses algorithms to identify terrorists in Pakistan (as well as harmless cell phone users) and target them for death by overhead drone.

    Perhaps these two programs could be merged?

    I see an enormous potential for health care cost cutting here.

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