More privacy problems have surfaced for the state's new online health insurance marketplace. Mark Larson, the state commissioner who oversees Vermont Health Connect, told lawmakers Tuesday there was an informational mix-up between two accountholders with the same first and last names.
"This incident doesn't pose a risk to any other Vermont Health Connect user," Larson said.
Commissioner Larson says last Friday a Vermont Health Connect user called up to make account changes. After answering a series of security questions, a customer service representative put in that request to have the user's information updated. Those changes were made, but to the wrong account, temporarily giving one individual access to another person's private information.
"I don't think that you will find any organization in either the private or public sector who occasionally does not make mistakes. It doesn't mean that they are excusable, but people are human and they will make errors," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Larson stresses this was a privacy incident, not a security breach, and says it was reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"Privacy and security are ongoing issues we will continue to monitor," Larson said.
But back in October there was a security breach. Two individuals managed to create identical usernames, which allowed one person to see the other individual's private information.
"This incident is not in any way related to what happened in October and, in fact, this incident is not a technology issue," Larson said.
Reporter Jennifer Reading: Are the customer service reps getting the training they need?
Mark Larson: So, what we will do with this situation is we will review or protocols and our training practices to make sure if there are changes that we should be making that we will make those... And we will work with customer service representatives to understand what we learned from this situation.
The governor did apologize for the mix-up Tuesday. But state officials say they don't want this to prevent others from signing up for coverage. About 16,300 Vermonters have already picked plans through Vermont Health Connect.
And an important deadline reminder-- those seeking financial assistance for coverage by the first of the year must sign up by Dec. 23.
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