Monday, February 4, 2008


A colleague of mine sent me this article, which should be of interest to pretty much everyone in the health care or human resources fields. AB1298 is an assembly bill that updates SB1386, California's much-copied breach disclosure law. The bottom line is that now an individual's health insurance ID number (which is hopefully not also their SSN) is considered PII much the same way a credit card number is. And when that data along with the corresponding name is breached, you must notify the victim.

It makes perfect sense. That number, combined with proper billing information, is enough to receive health care services from any participating medical provider. And, while I have pretty decent credit, I don't have a platinum card with a six-figure limit. But, if it were medically necessary, my insurer could be charged that kind of bill. And I would be responsible for the deductible. And, unlike my credit card's maximum personal loss, my deductible is not $50. So as an individual I stand to suffer greater financial loss if my medical identity is stolen versus my credit card.

In an America where health coverage is a problem for 47M people and the rising cost of health care is a problem for the rest, it doesn't seem at all far-fetched that trading in stolen health insurance information could become a lucrative criminal enterprise. And that would make health care data a real target.

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