MIB: Men in Black? No, the Medical Information Bureau. And you DEFINITELY Need to Know About Them.

Men in Black (film)
If only the Medical Information Bureau was this cool. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much like the Credit Reporting Agencies, there is a bureau collecting and storing your medical information. When you apply for medical or life insurance, your insurer contacts the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) to find out what your medical issues are, if you have any dangerous hobbies, how safe your driving is, and what your credit score looks like.

Who Are the MIB?

The MIB claims it “protects against insurance fraud,” and therefore keeps your costs lower. While I do understand that the issuing of bad policies to those who put inaccuracies on their insurance applications can cost insurers money, what really concerns me about the MIB is PRIVACY. Most Americans have no idea the MIB exists, let alone that it is a virtual clearinghouse for a huge amount of their personal information. According to an About.com articlefive hundred North American insurance companies have access to your data being held by the MIB.

Is Privacy Already Dead?

In this age of super technology and speedy information sharing, it seems that large agencies know more about us than we know about ourselves! I have always been uncomfortable that credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax) have so much information – our account numbers, addresses, place of employment, etc. – and it seems that practically anyone can contact them to inquire about our credit (I know I have seen some shady inquiries on my credit report… and just how many bureau employees have access to my file?). And now, I discover there is yet another agency with our personal information readily on file – the MIB – and this information includes our medical records, driving records, and hobbies!

But There is Some Good News

1) The MIB is considered a credit reporting agency, and therefore is subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). While I appreciate that the MIB is subject to the same federal regulations as the three major credit bureaus, I have found so many wild inaccuracies on my own credit reports that I have my doubts about how effective these federal regulations really are.

To monitor your credit report, see the Federal Trade Commission website. You have the right to one free report per year. If you would like to monitor your credit reports more regularly, the reports are available for a fee. I can personally recommend the CreditSecure program by American Express, which is very reasonably priced and provides you with email alerts when there is activity on your reports.

2) You are entitled to a free copy of your MIB file. The MIB has a file on you if “you have applied for individually underwritten life, health, disability income, long-term care or critical  illness insurance at an MIB member company within the past seven years” (see MIB website for more explanation). You should definitely get a copy of this file, especially if you anticipate applying for any new insurance coverage in the near future.

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