California settles with Anthem Blue Cross over data breach
Cross-posted from PHIprivacy.net:
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a settlement with one of California’s largest health insurers over allegations the company failed to protect the personal information of its members.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court today along with the settlement, alleges that Blue Cross of California, which does business under the trade name Anthem Blue Cross, printed Social Security numbers on letters mailed to more than 33,000 of its Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D subscribers between April 2011 and March 2012. The complaint states that Anthem’s conduct violated a state law that restricts the disclosure of Social Security numbers.
“Our office is committed to protecting the privacy of Californians,” said Attorney General Harris. “This settlement requires the company to make significant improvements to its data security procedures to ensure this type of error does not happen again.”
After the incident, Anthem sent a letter to all affected members whose Social Security numbers were visible through the mailed envelope, notifying them of the breach and offering each a year of free credit monitoring services.
The settlement also requires Anthem to implement new technical safeguards for its data management system, restrict employee access to members’ Social Security numbers and provide enhanced data security training for all of its associates.
The company must also pay $150,000 to settle the claim. The complaint and settlement reflect Attorney General Harris’ continued efforts to protect Californians’ privacy particularly where thousands of consumers can have their personal information released with a mere push of a button.
Source: Attorney General Kamala Harris
Curiously, I don’t see this breach listed on HHS’s breach tool, and this seems to be the first we’re hearing about it in the media. If the problem went on for a year but no later than March 2012, I would have expected to see it on HHS’s list by now.