Not many people are aware of the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) and what it does, but the information that the Medical Information Bureau has about you could affect your ability to get adequate health insurance, as well as life and disability insurance. If your health insurance company is a member of the MIB, it sends information about any claim you file with it to the MIB. If you were seen by a health insurance company doctor, the doctor may also send information to the MIB. Later, when you apply for insurance with another MIB member company, the new insurance company can access your information, as collected by the MIB, as a part of its evaluation whether to cover you or not.

What Exactly Is the Medical Information Bureau?

It is a central database of medical information. About 15 million people are on file in the Medical Information Bureau’s computers, with 600 insurance firms using its services. As an individual, when you apply for health insurance, you will probably be asked to provide information about your health. Sometimes, you will be examined by a doctor and have your blood/urine tested. The insurance company will then report to the MIB any medical conditions that you have that insurance companies may consider significant.

What Kind of Information Is Kept in a Typical MIB Record?

The information in a typical MIB record is limited to "codes" for specific medical conditions and lifestyle choices, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Participation in high-risk sports (i.e. skydiving)
  • Smoking

What Are Some Important Things to Remember about the MIB?

There are some things that you should know regarding the MIB, including:

  • It is not subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which sets a national standard of privacy of health information.
  • MIB files do not include the totality of your medical records. It only contains codes signifying certain health conditions.
  • Insurance companies are not supposed to base the decision of whether to insure you solely on the Medical Information Bureau’s report.
  • It is a consumer reporting agency subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). If you are denied insurance based on an MIB report, you have certain rights under the FCRA. You may obtain a free report and have erroneous information corrected.

What Should I Do If I Am Worried About the MIB?

You may have certain concerns regarding the Medical Information Bureau. Here are some tips:

  • If you are worried that the MIB has a file on you or that there may be errors in your MIB file, you may write to the Medical Information Bureau to find out if it has a file on you. The MIB will write back to you, telling you whether you are in the database. If you have a file, you can obtain a copy by writing to Medical Information Bureau, P.O. Box 105, Essex Station, Boston, MA 02112 or by calling (617) 426-3660.
  • If there is an error, you have the right to have it corrected. To do so, you must put your request in writing and provide proof that the information is wrong. If it verifies your information, the Medical Information Bureau must correct the error.
  • If you are denied insurance because of an MIB report, the insurer must give you the name and address of the company providing the negative information about you.

Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with Health Insurance Issues?

Because of the various federal laws involved, it may be helpful to consult a knowledgeable attorney who can help guide you through your rights. A lawyer may also be able to help you in deciding what course of action is right for you.