Yes, it has happened again. Protected health information exposed in an envelope window. Why do entities still use envelopes with windows? Anyway, Tufts Health Plan explains in their notification of February 16, 2018:
Subject: Notice of Inadvertent Disclosure of Health Plan Information
Tufts Health Plan uses a vendor to handle mailing of member identification (ID) cards. Between December 11, 2017 and January 2, 2018, the vendor mailed Tufts Medicare Preferred ID cards to Medicare Advantage members. The window of the envelope used for the mailing showed the Tufts Health Plan member ID number, in addition to the member’s name and address. The member ID number is not supposed to be visible in the address window of the envelope. Tufts Health Plan discovered the full extent of this error on January 18, 2018.
What is the member ID number?
Each member at Tufts Health Plan is assigned an ID number. The member ID number is not the member’s Social Security number or Medicare ID number.
What problem could this situation cause?
We have consulted with experts in the legal and fraud areas, and we have determined that this situation presents a very low risk to any member’s personal information. We have no indication that anyone other than the postal service would have been able to view the member ID number while the letter was in transit to the member. In the unlikely event that a member’s name and ID number are used by another person to receive services covered by Tufts Health Plan, the member will not be responsible for any charges.
What are we doing?
Since discovering the issue, we have been working with the vendor to ensure future mailings do not expose member ID numbers. The error has been fixed by the vendor. Also, our Customer Relations team has verification procedures in place to ensure that we will not provide confidential member information to anyone but the member or their authorized representative.
What you can do
This incident will not affect or change how our Tufts Medicare Preferred members receive benefits under their plan. For questions about this incident, we have a dedicated call center that members can contact at 1-855-269-6658.
We sincerely apologize for any concern this situation has caused. Please know that we deeply regret any worry or inconvenience.