← Return to search results
Back to Prindle Institute

Have You Sold Your Health? How FitBit, Apple’s “Health” App, and Android “Fit” App could affect your health care costs after DePauw

By Guest Author
8 Dec 2014
Cover image for What Bobolino Knew featuring an illustration of a man riding on a donkey with a blue head covering

Work out much? On a diet? Dealing with mental illness? How would you feel if anyone online could track down your medical information down to your sleeping habits?

Health data isn’t a topic we consider everyday, but just as geolocation has become an accepted part of owning a smartphone, our health data is increasingly urged to move from the private sphere into the public sphere. Fitbit, a company that produces wearable, wifi-connected fitness products, promotes sharing your health data with others on social media as a motivator to continue your fitness routine. Apple’s “Health” app and the Android “Fit” App also allow for easy sharing of this data. Not that you have to, or should feel obligated to. These companies have put extensive measures into place to ensure the security of this data, so unless you give away your passwords there’s little risk of it falling into the wrong hands.

But consider the effects of this later on. As health care costs continue to rise, insurance companies are more desperate than ever to find reasons to raise your premiums. Many companies already have access to this information. What if this type of disclosure becomes so normal online that we forget the impact it can have?

Now, I’d like to clarify; I’m not saying stop using these apps and devices. This data can be incredibly helpful to health professionals assisting patients, and is safeguarded from the public eye as long as it is not shared. But just as employers may ask for your social media information to run background checks (check this to see if that’s illegal or not in the first place; it varies by state), insurance companies are starting to ask the same.

Both Aetna and Kaiser are already using reduced costs and co-pays as an incentive to engage in healthy habits, but is this overreach? Should we be punished for being unhealthy? And what might be classified as an unhealthy habit? Would the occasional indulgence count? These policies are being developed at this moment, and will only become more detailed as our public data becomes richer.

What price are you prepared to pay?

This Guest Post was written by Lauren Owensby, a junior at DePauw University.

Related Stories

Diversity in Children's Books: A White Author's Quandary (Part II)

This post originally appeared September 29, 2015. In Part One of this two-part post on the moral importance of providing children with diverse books, I concluded that white authors need to write about non-white characters, or else they gravely falsify the “reality” presented in their stories. We don’t live in an all-white world. We don’t … Continue reading "Diversity in Children’s Books: A White Author’s Quandary (Part II)"

Diversity in Children's Books: A White Author's Quandary (Part I)

This post originally appeared September 22, 2015. For the first time in census history, the majority of children living in the United States are now children of color. But the vast majority of children living within the pages of American children’s books are white. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the University of … Continue reading "Diversity in Children’s Books: A White Author’s Quandary (Part I)"

A Libertarian Perspective On Gendered Bathroom Segregation

Recently in the United States, bathroom usage rights for transgender people have come to the political fore. As a part of Title IX protections against gender discrimination in federally funded educational institutions, the Obama administration has recently ordered public schools to allow students to use whichever bathrooms they please. This should free transgender students from … Continue reading "A Libertarian Perspective On Gendered Bathroom Segregation"