Ministry: Health funds must stop ‘unfair marketing’

Health Ministry orders health funds to stop using member addresses for marketing of commercial third-party businesses.

November 20, 2013 17:37
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The Health Ministry has ordered the four public health funds to halt “improper marketing tactics.” These activities include supplying their members’ details to commercial firms who paid for their lists and giving special VIP service to members who have shown interest in moving to another insurer.

In a directive sent Wednesday to the health fund directors- general, Rachel Topper Haver-Tov – the ministry’s deputy director-general in charge of health fund supervision – said they had no right to do this. Supplying addresses to third parties is forbidden and violates existing privacy rules, she said.

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The ministry has recently received complaints from residents who received various commercial offers they didn’t request. Some came even from other health funds who indirectly purchased addresses from their own health insurers.

As the health funds receive financing from health taxes and the state, they have no right to supply such data to commercial interests, Topper Haver-Tov said. The health funds must not send emails, text messages and personal letters for marketing to their members, she continued.

In addition, some health funds who fear their members will switch to another provider have set up VIP services to appease them and reduce red tape. This is illegal marketing, said the ministry official. All members should enjoy faster service and not only those who threaten to switch, she said.

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