We receive a lot of questions from clients and potential clients about the MIB. Most people know it’s part of the process for determining their insurance rate, but that’s about it. Misunderstandings abound.
Let us clear up the picture a bit.
The MIB (Medical Information Bureau) was started in the early 1900’s to help life insurance companies combat fraud, and that is still its main function today. Doctors and insurers submit information on patient health to the MIB, which then encapsulates that information in codes. An MIB code is also sometimes called an MIB, which could cause some confusion.
When you apply for insurance, the carrier can look you up, provided it is a member of MIB, which virtually all carriers are. The carrier then checks the information you provided against the information contained in the code—checking to make sure you’re being honest.
The code includes some types of information, but not others.
For example, say that you applied for insurance before, and that the underwriter learned that you had been treated for a significant medical issue (you gave your provider permission to disclose this information to insurance companies as part of your intake paperwork) and entered that information in the MIB database. When you apply for insurance again, the new underwriter can look you up and tell from the code what type of medical condition you had, how you were treated, when diagnosis and treatment occurred, where the information came from, and when it was given to the MIB.
But the code says nothing about whether your prior application was accepted or declined.
The MIB code is only used on formal applications. On informal applications, the MIB is not run by the carrier. Nor does the underwriter who reviews the current informal add any new codes to your record after they complete their review. Last, and most important, an underwriter cannot make any underwriting decision based solely on a code. They have to develop and verify any medical history that has been reported to the MIB before they can make a final assessment.
If you get a decision you don’t like because of an MIB code you believe to be inaccurate, you can attempt to get the code fixed. But except in the case of such errors, the MIB does not provide any information other than what you give the carrier yourself. The MIB just makes sure you’re not committing fraud—and that keeps prices down.
The MIB ultimately helps you.