Christopher Galluzzo

Could data mining be the future of employee-based health insurance? The Wall Street Journal reports on how employee wellness firms and insurance companies are working together to mine data on employees from “prescription drugs workers use, how they shop, and even whether they vote, to predict their individual health needs and recommend treatment.” Companies like Wal-Mart are using firms such as Castlight Healthcare, Inc. to gather and analyze data to find correlations between their habits and their health future.

While employers look for ways to cut down on health insurance costs, employees and private experts are concerned that management could obtain this information and use it to make workplace decisions because their health might be a financial risk to the company. Generally, employers aren’t allowed to know which employees have been flagged by data mining, but wellness firms “provide aggregate data on the number of employees found to be at risk for a given condition,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Through data analysis an employee who often eats out, could be sent an in-app messages or e-mails on healthier eating options in order to avoid heart complications that could increase healthcare costs.

Using data mining could help remodeling companies predict how many people they’ll have for a particular job site based upon the future health of health of their workers.

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