Health insurer, Health Net loses 1.5 million medical records

The health insurance company Health Net lost a hard drive about six months ago that contained a vast amount of sensitive patient information, company officials revealed this week.

How many victims? 1.5 million.

What type of personal information? Social Security numbers, medical records and health information.

What happened? The missing portable, external hard drive contained sensitive information dating as far back as 2002 for past and present customers in Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The hard drive went missing from the insurer's Northeast headquarters in Shelton, Conn. about six months ago.

Details: The sensitive data was compressed and saved as image files that require a special computer program to be read. The data was not encrypted.

Health Net officials notified the Conn. attorney general and the state's Department of Insurance about the breach this week. The insurer said it waited six months to reveal the breach due to an investigation into the incident, which included a forensic review by computer experts. 

Quote: "Health Net's incomprehensible foot-dragging demonstrates shocking disregard for patients' financial security, as well as loss of their highly sensitive and confidential personal health information," Conn. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, said in a statement, according to the Hartford Courant.

What was the response? Affected individuals will be notified by letter and offered a free, two year subscription for credit monitoring services.

Source: The Hartford Courant,, “1.5 Million Medical Files At Risk In Health Net Data Breach,” Nov. 19, 2009.

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