Blue Cross Doctor Data Stolen

Blue Cross and Blue Shield officials say a laptop computer with a file containing identifying information for every physician in the country who contracts with a Blue Cross-affiliated insurance plan was stolen in August. The officials say they do not know if the security breach led to the theft of any physician's identity.

A letter to physicians potentially harmed by the theft from Deborah L. Hayes, divisional vice president in the Regulatory Oversight Office of the Health Care Service Corporation, says the file contained physicians' names, addresses, tax identification numbers, and National Provider Identifier numbers. Her letter says a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) employee in Chicago violated security policies by transferring the date to a personal unencrypted laptop, which was then stolen on Aug. 25.

Blue Cross is offering physicians 12 months of free credit monitoring from Experian to physicians whose Social Security number is the same as their tax identification number. BCBSA spokesperson Jeff Smokler estimated that about 16 to 20 percent of the physicians in the national Blue Cross database use their Social Security number as a tax identification number. Neither he nor Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas officials could say how many Texas physicians are affected.   

Eligible physicians may enroll by calling Experian at (866) 252-0121. They must enroll by Dec. 31. Call Experian if you have questions about the free credit-monitoring program or if you suspect or have identified fraudulent or unauthorized activity.

For additional assistance, call Blue Cross at (800) 305-3903 Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.

In another privacy-related issue, new federal regulations require physicians covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to notify patients of any security breaches involving their medical information. Guidance on complying with the regulations [ PDF ] is posted in the TMA HIPAA Resource Center .

Action , Oct. 16, 2009

Last Updated On

June 16, 2010