Obamacare marketplaces raise data security concerns

Obamacare marketplaces Data security

October 2, 2013
Minnesota insurance broker Jim Koester was looking for informationabout
assisting with Obamacare implementation; instead, what landed in his inbox
last month was a document filled with the names, Social Security numbers
and other pieces of personal information belonging to his fellow
In one of the first breaches of the new Obamacare online marketplaces, an
employee of the Minnesota marketplace, called MNsure, accidentally emailed
Koester a document containing personally identifying information for more
than 2,400 insurance agents, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported. MNsure
was able to quickly undo the damage because Koester cooperated with them,
but the incident left him unnerved.
“The more I thought about it, the more troubled I was,” Koester told the
newspaper. “What if this had fallen into the wrong hands? It’s scary. If
this is happening now, how can clients of MNsure be confident their data
is safe?”
Online marketplaces like MNsure, called exchanges, are now running in all
50 states and the District of Columbia, as part of the changes established
under the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment began on Tuesday, and as
many as 7 million people are expected to sign up for private insurance
plans on the exchanges in the next six months. Personal information for
all of those customers will be routed from a federal datahub to the
state-based exchanges, leaving people like Koester, and some health data
experts, concerned about the program’s security.