February 03, 2008 |
New Jersey State Law requires coverage of mental illness only if it's biologically based. Once you get past that antiquated mentality that probably allows medical insurance companies to dodge coverage on a whim, you have to wonder how they would go about proving that a condition was biologically based.
According to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, odds are eating disorders have no biological basis, and to prove it, they want your hard drive, your emails, and, oh yes, your Facebook and MySpace postings. Horizon claims that the writings of adolescent eating disorder patients posted on social networking sites in discussion with others give evidence of the disease's origins, and further claim that it's proof that the disease has no biological base.
Horizon demanded (and was backed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz) the children's emails, diaries, and other writings, that had been "shared with others, including Web sites such as 'Facebook' or 'MySpace.'" In addition, Horizon demanded identification of all email accounts and a mirror-image copy of the hard drive for every computer for the entire family.
The scope of the request has already been narrowed; the original request would have included postings from OTHERS not related to the suit (and not necessarily in New Jersey) which would have been an incredible invasion of privacy. The argument made by the lawyers for the children is that many of these postings may have had therapeutic value, and could cause detriment to both the children involved in the case as well as others posting to the same groups or message boards.
Online support groups have long been used for those suffering from eating disorders, but the more recent proliferation of pro-eating-disorder web sites and groups (also known as pro-ana) has certainly gained attention and may be exactly what Horizon is looking for with their demands. Facebook, MySpace, and LiveJournal have several groups listed under the keywords pro-ana, MIA, and "thinspiration." Unless some type of policies are instituted on social networking sites prohibiting establishment of groups that promote dangerous behavior, the judicial system will likely continue to support insurers in their demands for online content to support denial of coverage.