WellPoint Breach Could Have Exposed Enrollees’ Medical, Financial Data
The insurer WellPoint recently notified 470,000 individual policyholders that their medical records, Social Security numbers, credit card information and other sensitive data might have been exposed during a recent security breach, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports (AP/Los Angeles Times, 6/29).
In California, WellPoint's subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross had the largest number of potentially affected members, with 230,000 applicants at risk (Lee, Indianapolis Star, 6/30).
According to WellPoint, the problem resulted from an online program that allows people to track the progress of their application for coverage (AP/Los Angeles Times, 6/29). The company said an unnamed third-party vendor had completed work on the website and mistakenly declared that all security measures were in place (Indianapolis Star, 6/30).
WellPoint spokesperson Cynthia Sanders said a California member in March realized that she could access confidential information on other applicants by manipulating Web addresses for the online program.
Sanders said the company corrected the problem within 12 hours of discovering it (AP/Los Angeles Times, 6/29).
Possible Effects of Breach
An investigation by WellPoint found that fewer than 10 unidentified computers had accessed the member information (Sturdevant, Hartford Courant, 6/30).
WellPoint said about 940 insurance applications might have been accessed because of the glitch (Finkle, Reuters, 6/29).
The company said the breach did not affect people with group coverage or Medicare Advantage beneficiaries (AP/Los Angeles Times, 6/29).
On June 18, WellPoint started sending notifications about the breach to individual policyholders who had information stored in the application tracking program from October 2009 through March 2010. The company is offering no-cost identity protection services to affected members.
The latest incident is the largest of three security breaches reported by WellPoint during the past three-and-a-half years (Indianapolis Star, 6/30).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.