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During an appearance on Capitol Hill earlier this week, a representative for a prominent US think tank suggested that blockchain applications could fuel next-generation health and insurance data systems.

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident fellow Scott Gottlieb spoke yesterday before the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health. In his remarks, Gottlieb testified about ideas for bringing innovation and competition to US insurance markets, at one point discussing using technology to design more intuitive insurance risk pools.

Gottlieb suggested that a more technologically advanced risk pool would have the capacity to auto-regulate insurance subsidies in real time, indicating that, from AEI’s perspective, such a system could employ a blockchain.

He remarked:

"The designations that follow individuals in such a hypothetical insurance pool, which would indicate the existence of their adjusted subsidies and thus their underlying medical condition, would need to be completely de-identified in advance of enrollment and impenetrable to disclosures. But there are other economic constructs that trade contractual information with units of value and that allow these exchanges to be made anonymously. Blockchain, for example, incorporates some of these features."

The suggestion comes during a notable period in the years since the US government implemented the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, which aimed to expand health care access through an insurance mandate and an effective socialization of insurer losses.

Further, it comes as major healthcare organizations are beginning to investigate blockchain technology, with Philips recently partnering with industry startups Gem and Tierion as well as opening a research lab devoted to the tech.

Image via Shutterstock

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