Critics of the Affordable Care Act have long contended that Obamacare asks too many personal questions of would-be enrollees and is rife with the potential for fraud, abuse and privacy breaches.
Now those criticisms have been proven correct. A Minnesota insurance broker told the Star Tribune last month that he had received a document in his email that contained a trove of confidential information on more than 2,400 insurance agents, including things like names, Social Security numbers and business addresses.
The source? An unnamed staffer at MNsure, Minnesota’s new Obamacare health exchange online marketplace. The MNsure employee had accidentally sent the email to the wrong person (although it begs the question — who’s the right person to receive that much info about that many people?).
The Star Tribune reported:
An official at MNsure, the state’s new online health insurance exchange, acknowledged it had mishandled private data. A MNsure security manager called the broker, Jim Koester, and walked him and his assistant through a process of deleting the file from their computer hard drives.
Koester said he willingly complied, but was unnerved.
“The more I thought about it, the more troubled I was,” he said. “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?”
Good thing the email landed in an honest guy’s inbox, huh?
Exchange enrollees throughout the Nation are required to provide a lot of personal data, which is run through a Federal database for verification and to sort out candidates who are eligible for Obamacare subsidies from those who aren’t eligible. As everyone by now knows, that information also must be passed along to Obamacare’s enforcement arm: the Internal Revenue Service.
The hurried rollout of Obamacare for individuals has a slap-shot quality of reckless haste that finance and healthcare experts had cautioned against in testimony before lawmakers.
University of Minnesota Finance Professor Steve Parente, who this week testified in Washington about the potential pitfalls associated with the needlessly urgent rollout schedule, told the newspaper it’s impossible to implement even basic security and functionality in a system as complex as the healthcare exchanges if the schedule is dictated by political motives.
“The people who believe in this are so driven that there’s a subcontext of ‘Just let us do our job and get as many people signed up as possible, and we’ll pick up the debris later,’” he said.