In a year of supply-chain attacks, do you have your business associate agreements in place?

I recently came across a breach report that is a useful reminder of the value of ensuring that  business associate agreements (BAA) are in place, and that compliance with the agreements is assessed regularly.

In this instance Humana, a health plan, reported that on December 22, they were notified by a business associate that an employee of the business associate’s subcontractor had engaged in wrongdoing with some members’ protected health information.

Specifically, Humana uses a business associate for risk management, Cotiviti. Cotiviti, in turn, utilizes a subcontractor, Visionary.

In December, Cotiviti learned that a Visionary employee had been misusing Humana members’ protected health information to train unauthorized individuals how to do risk adjustment coding (this employee had his own business as a sideline). While the employee was authorized to access and use the data for Humana purposes, they disclosed the information to unauthorized individuals through a personal Google Drive account. The misuse of members’ medical records occurred from October 12, 2020 through December 16, 2020. When Visionary discovered the misuse, they notified Cotiviti, who in turn, notified Humana on December 22.

Humana notified 985 members in Washington state and Montana; the total number of affected members was not reported in the notifications saw. I expect we’ll eventually see a total number on HHS’s public breach tool for this incident.

Humana did not indicate how Visionary first became aware of their employee’s wrongdoing.

In response to the incident, Humana offered those affected two years of credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

In addition to other steps the firms have taken to strengthen protections and to prevent a future incident of this kind,  both Visionary and Cotiviti launched a comprehensive investigation into the incident and hired cybersecurity firms to assist in the efforts.

Updated March 6, 2021:  WLIX is reporting that Humana is notifying approximately 65,000 members of this incident. The incident is not yet up on HHS’s public breach tool.


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