Burger and beer posts on social media will cost you
DATA companies are already working tirelessly to aggregate detailed dossiers based on your internet usage for targeted advertising but what happens when this information is sold to your health insurer?
Imagine this scenario: You go to renew your health insurance policy and are advised your premium is now five times more than what you had paid previously because of what you have shared online.
You ask for further clarification and are told your frequent wine o'clock posts demonstrate you are at higher risk of liver disease, the XL shirt you purchased online raises red flags for obesity related illness and your Instragrammed food demonstrates your unhealthy diet.
As such, your health care provider says you're a much larger risk of needing medical treatment than your kale-smoothie-drinking-marathon-running friend - hence the larger premium.
It might sound like some far-fetched concept, but unfortunately this is slowly becoming a reality.
Currently private health insurance in Australia is community rated by law, but with technology quickly evolving and business changing, this might not always be the case.
MYOB chief technical adviser and Futurist Simon Raik-Allen said these digital profiles will only become more accurate as technology advances.
"The world produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day. This is enough to fill 10 million Blu-ray discs, which if stacked on top of each other, would measure the height of four Eiffel Towers," he told news.com.au
"AI and machine learning eats this type of data for breakfast and is getting much better at incorporating algorithms to mine for specific information."
YOUR INFO CAN BE 'USED AGAINST YOU'
While AI is already helpful for retail marketing, Mr Raik-Allen suggests this big data is attracting massive interest from the medical sector - for good and bad.
"We are constantly giving hundreds of companies our data, but we have to be cautious about how these parties protect that information," he said.
"It's great to portray yourself to the world as a happy-go-lucky type who is always partying on social media, but you need to be aware of how public information could be used against you. The internet never forgets."
A recent report entitled Strengthening Protection of Patient Medical Data confirmed private medical data is already for sale and has become a multibillion-dollar business.
"What many patients do not know is that, today, much of their health information is routinely sold and traded - in anonymised form - to third parties in for-profit commerce unrelated to their specific treatment," the report reads.
While removing names, birthdates and other easy identifiers about a patient might seem like protection method, this is sadly not the case.
"Social media, fitness devices, and health apps give advertisers additional information that can be openly traded and sold - but without any obligation to remove patient names or details," the report reads.
"Enough anonymised data gathered over time will eventually contain enough clues to re-identify nearly anyone who has received medical care, posing a big potential threat to privacy."
As explored in his The Age of Change report, Mr Raik-Allen predicted the growing popularity of embedded devices could either help or exacerbate this problem.
"Getting NFC chips implanted into your body is moving away from backstreet tattoo parlours and coming into mainstream," he said.
"Imagine a time where you have a chip in every muscle of your body and all you have to do is sweep your phone over your body to get a graph detailing every aspect of your health."
While this could be helpful in early detection of disease or help give you information on how to treat a virus without a trip to the GP, it could also be used to increase your health insurance.