They know who you are, whether you smoke and how fast you drive. If you’re applying for medical insurance, you need to know what the MIB knows.
What does health insurance have in common with the CIA, Freemasons and the Skull and Bones society?
Your eligibility for health insurance just may be shrouded in the mysterious folds of an organization the general public knows little about. There are no secret handshakes or enigmatic symbols, but it does have a coding system known only by its employees and members.
What is this ominous-sounding organization? It’s the MIB Group, formerly known as the Medical Information Bureau, and it provides information to insurance companies that can make or break a consumer’s insurance application. Though the MIB has been in existence since 1902, most consumers have not heard of it.
The MIB is described as a “membership corporation,” and is owned by approximately 470 insurance companies who make up the MIB’s membership. The MIB’s stated mission is to detect and deter fraud that may occur during the course of a person obtaining medical insurance, life insurance, disability income and other types of healthcare insurance. It protects insurance companies from being defrauded by an applicant who knowingly or unknowingly omits critical information or lies.
The MIB is a lot like a credit reporting agency. It provides information to insurance companies to help them decide whether or not to provide medical insurance to an applicant. The information also helps the insurance company determine the patient’s premiums.
Not everyone has a report on file with the MIB. If you have not applied for health insurance or an individual life insurance policy within the last 7 years, then you do not have an MIB report. According to figures reported by the MIB, the organization collects information on around 15% to 20% of people who have applied for either medical insurance or life insurance policies.
The MIB’s similarity to credit reporting agencies isn’t a superficial one. The U.S. government classifies the MIB as a consumer reporting agency, which means it must comply with both the US Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. That means consumers have the right to a copy of the information reported by the MIB to insurance companies. In fact, you have access to one free MIB report each year.
Some of the information collected and reported by the MIB includes:
* Medical conditions
* Medical test results
* Negative habits such as drugs, alcohol abuse, smoking and overeating
* Hazardous occupations and/or hobbies
* Poor driving history
Information collected about the MIB stays in a consumer’s files for seven years. Also, a consumer’s record will indicate which, if any, members have requested their information within the previous 12 months.
Because this information can affect a person’s ability to obtain medical insurance, consumers are encouraged to check with the MIB and to request their report if one exists. That way the consumer can check the report for accuracy and will be aware of any issues which may negatively impact their ability to qualify for medical insurance. Consumers have the ability to dispute any of the information on their report through the MIB’s dispute process.
To request your file, phone the MIB by calling their toll-free number: 866-692-6901866-692-6901. You will be asked to provide certain personal identifying information, and only you can request your file. A consumer’s guide to the MIB is available on the group’s website at www.mib.com.