Grocery loyalty card purchases surveilled by insurance companies to raise rates and deny claims

 

insurance

 

Sunday, March 03, 2013
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com

(NaturalNews) I warned Natural News readers about this years ago: those grocery  store “loyalty cards” that they push on you to enjoy discounts on groceries are  actually a behavior surveillance technology that’s used to capture and  profile your grocery purchasing patterns. This data is then sold off to  insurance companies who use it to raise your rates by linking your grocery  purchases with the risk of disease.
Buying a lot of ice cream? You’re  more likely to be obese and diabetic.
Purchasing a lot of processed meats  and homogenized milk? You’re more likely to develop cardiovascular  disease.
Bringing home a lot of processed food with additives, chemical  sweeteners and chemical preservatives? You’re far more likely to get  cancer.
Health insurance companies are now using this data to develop  these sorts of “risk profiles” of individual consumers. And it’s all enabled  because people are so incredibly obedient that they actually fill out their real  names and addresses on these grocery loyalty cards. Health insurance companies  simply use credit reporting databases to link your grocery loyalty card account  number to your health insurance account number, and from there, your insurance  rates can be adjusted based on what you buy to eat.
Even worse, they can  use this data to deny your health insurance claims. For example, if you  get diagnosed with cancer, your health insurance company can look through your  grocery purchasing history and show that you bought processed meat products  containing cancer-causing sodium nitrite. They can use this data to deny  payment on your claims and push the blame on YOU for living a “cancer  lifestyle.”

From conspiracy theory to conspiracy fact

When I first reported on this  a decade ago, I was called a “conspiracy theorist” for daring the write about  the “absurd” idea that grocery store purchase data would be used against you.  But now, in the age of total police state surveillance of your search engine  queries, cell phone texts, bank transactions, emails and web surfing behavior,  the idea that corporations are purchasing your grocery purchase surveillance  data is no longer just a theory: it’s a conspiracy  fact.
“Marketing firms have sold this data to retailers and  credit-card companies for years, and health plans have recently discovered they  can use it to augment claims data,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
The title of that article,  by the way, is, “How the Insurer Knows You Just Stocked Up on Ice Cream and  Beer.” It opens with this paragraph:
Your company already knows  whether you have been taking your meds, getting your teeth cleaned and going for  regular medical checkups. Now some employers or their insurance  companies are tracking what staffers eat, where they shop and how much weight  they are putting on — and taking action to keep them in line.
This  is all reported in a ho-hum, matter-of-fact manner. There is no cry of  “conspiracy theorists!” There is no accusation that the Wall Street Journal is  fear mongering over a fabricated bit of fictional news. Nope, in 2013 this news  is simply accepted as “normal.”
This is how things work in our  world: When people like myself or Alex Jones first warn you about what’s coming,  we’re called “conspiracy theorists” and told that whatever we’re talking about  doesn’t exist. Later, once it becomes obvious that the thing we were talking  about does, indeed, exist, the accusation changes to, “Well, you should LIKE  it!”
That’s what we’re hearing about grocery shopping loyalty  cards now. Yes, it’s all admitted that they are tracking your grocery  purchase behavior, and it’s all admitted that this surveillance data is being  sold off to countless corporations who use that data to spy on your eating  habits and maybe even deny you health  insurance claims. But now you’re just supposed to accept it as “normal” and  not question it. “What kind of a kook wants anonymity in their grocery purchases  anyway?” the thinking goes.

How corporations spy on the most intimate parts of your life

The thing  is, when they aggregate your purchase data, they can easily determine all sorts  of very private things about your life. They know whether you have pets or  children. They even know very private, personal things like when you purchase a  pregnancy test kit or the fact that you’re using hair coloring products. They  know which brands you prefer, how many coupons you use, and even when you’re  planning a party.
All this information can and will be used to target you  with not just marketing messages, but potentially to raise your insurance rates  or even fire you from your job because you’re a “heart attack risk.” Yep, just  wait for your employer to get their hands on all this information. It has  already begun, in fact. As the Wall Street Journal report:
Some  critics worry that the methods cross the line between protective and invasive —  and could lead to job discrimination. …Dr. Deborah Peel, founder of Patient  Privacy Rights… worries employers could conceivably make other conclusions  about people who load up the cart with butter and sugar.
When you use  grocery loyalty cards, you allow the corporate borg to invade your private life  and pry into the most intimate activities inside your own home.
It’s not about saving you money. It’s about the grocery  store making money by selling the most private, intimate details of  your life to any number of unethical corporations, all of which are drooling  over the possibility of using this information against you in some insidious  way.

My run-in with the “card pusher”

About a decade ago, I had a repeated  run-in with a loyalty card pusher at a local grocery store. This cashier, a  50’s-something bearded man, knew I always paid with cash and always refused a  loyalty card, and over time this began to infuriate him.
He kept  insisting that I should sign up for the card because otherwise I was “throwing  money away.” The idea of privacy protection never even entered his mind, of  course. He had no clue what his own employer was doing with all this  data.
Eventually, just to play along with the guy, one day I said, “Okay,  I’ll fill it out this time,” I filled it out with a false name and no address,  making sure that nothing could be linked to my real name and  address.
This satisfied the cashier’s insistence that I stop “throwing  money away,” but it also protected my privacy from the prying eyes of corporate  marketers and insurance companies.
And this  is the solution for everyone: Fill out the cards if you want, but use false  names.

Never use your real name on retailer loyalty cards

Have fun with this.  Resist the grocery surveillance agenda by using funny, inappropriate names such  as :
• Chris P. Bacon • Oliver Closoff • Heywood Jablome • Pat  McGroin (also works with the TSA) • Jack Hoff
Remember, there is no  requirement that you give them your real name and address to sign up for  their loyalty card. Let ’em have fun trying to find the health insurance policy  for Heywood Jablome. You can only imagine the corporate phone  conversation:
“Hello this is Kevin from Data Resources International.  We’re looking for a match on a name from your database.”
“What name is  that?”
“Heywood Jablome.”
(pause) “Don’t you have any phone  manners?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I asked for what name you  were looking for, and you said…”
“Heywood Jablome?”
“YES! I  mean, NO! There you go again!”
“But that’s his name.”
“What’s his  name?”
“Heywood Jablome!”
“NO! And stop asking!”
… and so  on.
See, you can turn grocery store loyalty cards into much-needed comic  relief. This is one way you give the system the shaft and walk away with your  privacy intact.

 

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