Insurer's Mailing Error Leads to Breach

Social Security Numbers Shown on Envelope
Insurer's Mailing Error Leads to Breach
More than 30,000 enrollees in a Medicare supplementary insurance plan from Anthem Blue Cross are being offered free credit monitoring services after they were mailed notices that apparently displayed their Social Security numbers in the envelope window.

A brief statement from Anthem (Blue Cross of California) about the health information breach said only that the April 27 mailing "inadvertently included some information that was visible in the envelope window." But a report on the NBC San Diego website quoted a Medicare supplement client who found his Social Security number visible on the envelope.

In its statement, Anthem said: "We became aware of the issue on Thursday, May 5. We immediately suspended all mailings and implemented processes to prevent this error from happening again. ... There is no indication that any information has been used in a way that is detrimental to our members. In fact, we believe the information may not have been readily identifiable to third parties as personal information. Nevertheless, we are in the process of sending courtesy notices to the affected members along with the offer of free credit monitoring services."

Last year, Anthem Blue Cross was one of several units of WellPoint Inc.), which owns Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states, that eventually notified a total of 480,000 people who applied for individual health insurance coverage that their information may have been breached on a website.

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

Former News Editor, ISMG

Anderson was news editor of Information Security Media Group and founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.

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