A major health insurance study spearheaded by Joany, a healthcare insurance company, is raising questions over whether or not it uses unethical data collection measures. The study claims to compensate users for time spent filling out the study, initially asking a small set of control questions to judge the user’s eligibility. However, many users are reporting getting through the entire study and providing exceptionally private information only to be advised that they don’t qualify and won’t be compensated.
• Most research and survey companies use control questions to filter out people who do not qualify for their surveys. However, control questions are typically short and limited to reduce the amount of effort required to determine eligibility. This doesn’t seem to the case with Joany.
• Many who have taken the survey are calling it a classic bait and switch move; the company promises compensation, collects the data, and then refuses to cough up the cash. Because they still retain the full survey at the end, this represents a serious ethical issue.
• It also wasn’t immediately clear whether or not Joany uses the information gathered once someone disqualifies. However, the company clearly retains personal information such as name, email address, and contact info. This could potentially be used to create a sales list of leads for their own health insurance.
• Joany does offer a Terms and Conditions on their website; however, it is buried deep at the bottom of the survey into a tiny, barely visible link. Only a single sentence makes mention of potentially disqualifying after the survey. “If there are no additional questions, you will be compensated for your time.”
• One of the most concerning reasons people are speaking out relates to the fact that Joany apparently requires responders to prove they have a currently active healthcare plan. This includes logging into their current insurance provider, taking a snapshot with account information and plan details, and sending Joany the image. This could also be used to cultivate a list of competitors to help the company market their own insurance.
• If a company is not technologically capable of filtering out users who don’t qualify to take the survey in the first place, it’s highly improbably they are technologically capable of protecting user data.