FOI request for health-care providers raises questions

Cayman’s Information Commissioner
has denied an open records request for a comprehensive list of approved
health-care providers in the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company’s
overseas network.

The requester was basically seeking
to obtain information about any health-care provider outside of Cayman that
could be used in CINICO’s network for overseas patient referrals.

Information Commissioner Jennifer
Dilbert – in a first of its kind ruling – judged that this request would have
“unreasonably diverted” the resources of CINICO and that the government-owned
health insurance company was not required to comply with the request.

Moreover, Mrs. Dilbert wondered
about the practical use of obtaining such information, a rare step for the
generally neutral commissioner’s office.

“I question whether the request has
any serious purpose or value,” she wrote in her judgment, which was released
last week. “I cannot fathom any purpose or value to one person obtaining a list
of every single service provider contracted by the CINICO administrator in
every country of the world.”

Under the Freedom of Information
Law (2007), public authorities are not allowed to ask the reason why records
are being requested or to what use they will be put if received.

CINICO officials initially
responded to the request for the records by stating there was no single
document that listed all the in-network overseas health-care providers.

Producing such a list, the company
claimed, would cost $30,000 and take 100,000 pages to reproduce.

Mrs. Dilbert said she was “somewhat
sceptical” of the cost estimate, but she noted that even half of the amount to
pay for a document that would soon be outdated and “hold little or no value” to
the general public would constitute an unreasonable diversion of CINICO
resources.

Although she denied the request for
information, the information commissioner pointed out that CINICO’s website states
that “a list of network providers will be given to plan participants, at no
cost, and updated as needed.”

When first considering the
information request, CINICO managers offered to provide a list of overseas care
providers available in certain regions. However, they said a comprehensive list
would simply be too daunting to obtain.

“I would…urge CINICO to look
carefully at its published plan documents and website to ensure that no
potentially misleading information is given,” Mrs. Dilbert wrote.

CINICO also argue that the
applicant’s request for the entire list of in-network overseas health-care providers
was “vexatious” in nature. However, the information commissioner did not agree,
since the applicant for the information had a “reasonable expectation” that the
records would be available based on the comments from CINICO’s website.

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