Should insurance companies use Facebook to investigate health claims?

I just came across this CBC article reporting that a Quebec woman has been denied long-term sick-leave benefits because of

I just came across this CBC article reporting that a Quebec woman has been denied long-term sick-leave benefits because of photos her insurer found on Facebook.

Nathalie Blanchard was on long-term sick-leave for a year and a half after being diagnosed with clinical depression. The photos in question were taken of her on a beach vacation and out with friends at a bar.

Blanchard says that when she called Manulife to inquire about why her payments had stopped, the insurance company said she should be able to work because of the pictures found on Facebook, the CBC article reports. Blanchard says her Facebook profile is set to private.

The article also says that Manulife has confirmed that it uses Facebook to investigate claims.

Now this has me a tad concerned. How can an insurance company assess a person’s mental state based on personal photos? My understanding of depression is that sufferers can be quite good at hiding their symptoms when in public. Blanchard says her doctor encouraged her to participate in social activities. I can’t imagine that it would be helpful for someone suffering from depression to sit at home in her bathrobe all day.

Granted, Manulife told the CBC that they would not deny a claim based solely on Facebook photos. But should Facebook photos come into play at all? What do you think? Is this a perfectly valid way for an insurance company to investigate a client? After all, Facebook is a public site. Does this case raise alarm bells for you about the privacy of your social-networking accounts?

Don’t miss a single Best Health Blog post’subscribe today via RSS or email!

Popular Videos