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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Healthcare Data Spilling

I don't think I've heard anyone debate this particular point in relation to healthcare reform, but it's something that everyone should be concerned about.

Identity theft.

So you may be asking yourself, just what is the connection. Well, 80,000 people in Universal American Insurance customers in Pennsylvania know.

Thousands of Pennsylvanians could become victims of identity theft just because a piece of mail has been sent to their homes.

Right on the front of the piece of mail, in plain view, is the recipient's Social Security number. Tens of thousands of Medicare recipients may be at risk.

The postcards were from the Universal American Action Network, a subsidiary of Universal American Insurance.

The insurance providers statement seems a little odd though.

UAM Action Network recently sent a mailer to approximately 80,000 Medicare Advantage plan members which mistakenly listed the member’s Medicare number on the postcard. The Medicare number was listed as part of the member’s mailing address and no indication was given as to its reference. We at the UAM Action Network sincerely apologize for this error, which was made by our mailing vendor without our knowledge. We have taken immediate steps to address the situation. The vendor has been fired. In addition, UAM Action Network will send a letter to those members who received the original mailer. The letter will notify them of the error and offer to provide the member with one year of free credit monitoring. Any member who received the mailer and has questions or concerns can contact us by calling 1-877-697-6228."

Your Medicare account number is your Social Security number. So the question is, how did the printing company get that number to begin with?

But this isn't the only instance of carelessness on the part of insurance providers in the healthcare industry.

Provider HealthNet lost 1.5 million patient records back in May, but didn't report the loss until this month. And out of that number, information on some 5000 doctors was lost.

The need to reform not only how healthcare is given, and how much it costs the consumer, but how records are kept need to be as well.

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