Covered Calif. Releases Website Users’ Contact Information
As part of a pilot program that began last week, Covered California has provided insurance agents with contact information for tens of thousands of individuals who created accounts through the exchange but did not purchase a health plan, the Los Angeles Times reports (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 12/6).
Details of Program
The information released as part of the pilot program included:
- Telephone numbers; and
- E-mail addresses.
Social Security numbers, income and other personal data were not shared, exchange officials said (AP/Modern Healthcare, 12/8).
The goal of the program is to reach individuals with "in-play applications" who might need additional help to complete enrollment in an exchange plan, according to officials (Cadelago, Sacramento Bee, 12/7).
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said that agents are prohibited from using the information for any purpose other than enrolling individuals in an exchange plan.
Sam Smith, president of the California Association of Health Underwriters, said he was "shocked and dumbfounded" by the exchange's decision to release consumers' information.
Smith said exchange officials previously had given him the impression that the individuals had requested to be contacted.
Smith said, "These people would have a legitimate complaint."
Lee said the pilot program was approved by the state's legal counsel and meets privacy law requirements.
However, Lee acknowledged that the individuals whose information was released did not request to be contacted by an insurance agent.
"I can imagine some people may be upset," Lee said, adding, "But I can see a lot of people will be comforted and relieved at getting the help they need to navigate a confusing process" (Los Angeles Times, 12/6).
Anne Gonzales, a spokesperson for the exchange, said, "For all we know, [these individuals] may think they are finished" applying for coverage through the exchange. She added, "We don't want to lose them if they are interested in getting a plan" (Sacramento Bee, 12/7).
On Saturday, AP/KPCC's "KPCC News" reported on the pilot program ("KPCC News," AP/KPCC, 12/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.