CalOptima notifies members of breach 8 months later?

CalOptima, the Orange County organized health system that administers health insurance programs for low-income children, adults, seniors and people with disabilities, posted the following on their web site:

Notice of Data Breach

At CalOptima, our mission is to provide members with access to quality health care services delivered in a cost-effective and compassionate manner. Protecting our members’ confidentiality and privacy is a crucial part of that mission.

What happened?

On October 7, 2015, an internal printing error resulted in approximately 100 CalOptima Medi- Cal members with diabetes receiving a health incentive survey that may have included an extra survey meant for another member. We became aware of the error on October 8, 2015, and immediately stopped all printing. However, we were not able to retrieve the surveys that had already been processed for mailing.

What information was involved?

The health incentive survey was only sent to certain CalOptima Medi-Cal members with diabetes. The information on the surveys was limited to the member’s first and last name, Client Identification Number (CIN) and, in some cases, information about the member’s diabetes diagnosis. The surveys did NOT contain any other information, such as Social Security number, driver license number or financial account numbers.

What are we doing?

Your privacy is very important to us, and we apologize for this mistake. We have reviewed and changed our procedures and practices to minimize the risk of this event happening again. Extra training was provided to the business unit where the error occurred.

What can you do?

We recommend that you regularly review the explanation of benefits statements that you receive from CalOptima. If you see any service that you believe you did not receive, please contact us at 1-888-587-8088. If you do not receive regular explanation of benefits statements, contact us or your provider and ask them to send these statements following the terms of service provided in your name or under your plan number.

Other important information:

Please see “Breach Help — Consumer Tips From the California Attorney General” for more information about your medical privacy rights. You may visit the website of the California Department of Justice, Privacy Enforcement and Protection at

For more information:

If you need more information about this event, please contact CalOptima Customer Service toll- free at 1-888-587-8088. TDD/TTY users can call 1-800-735-2929. We have staff who speak your language.

It’s not clear why this incident was first reported to HHS on August 22, 2016 – or why the web site notice says 100 members, but the report to HHS says 1,000.  Or why they would have submitted this to HHS as “unauthorized access/disclosure involving “other portable electronic device.”  In fact, I was wondering if this was the same incident at all or a different incident. But looking at the properties meta data on the web site notice, it appears that the .pdf was created on June 23, 2016. That’s still way later than a breach that had been discovered in October, 2015, but it would suggest that it is linked to the HHS submission. called CalOptima yesterday to try to clarify the incident’s details, but did not receive a return call. This post will be updated if more information becomes available.

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