Error sends University of Missouri insurance mail to wrong addresses
Mon, 24 Jan 2011 20:14:16 GMT —
Hundreds of participants of University of Missouri TMs health insurance program are being told to be on the look-out for insurance fraud after several hundred insurance communications were mailed to the wrong person.Health benefit statements, health services letters and new ID cards were among the correspondence mailed to incorrect addresses between January 6th and 10th of this year.The mailings included personal information, including, names, member numbers and birth dates. However, the University said social security numbers were not included in the mailings.The University tells KRCG the error affected about 750 employees with about an equal number of pieces of mail.University of Missouri system officials blames the problem on Coventry Health Care, which administers the university TMs insurance plans. Coventry said a computer malfunction aligned names with the wrong addresses.The incorrect mailings could put those affected in danger of medical identity theft, when a person uses another person TMs insurance card to receive medical services.The World Privacy Forum says it has been trying to raise awareness about medical ID theft for years now. The organization says there is no national standard for dealing with medical identity theft and that it is hard to fix once the damage is done.One concerning outcome of the crime is the altering of one TMs medical history."There are people we've talked with who, their imposter went in and had a hospital stay and put down that they were allergic to one drug, and then the real person is not allergic to that drug, but they're allergic to other drugs, said Pat Dixon, the executive director of the World Privacy Forum in an interview with NPR.Kelly Stuck, who oversees faculty and staff benefits with MU, tell KRCG she believes the threat of medical identity theft is diminished because the incorrect mailings were only sent to other MU employees.University of Missouri said it immediately contacted Coventry on Jan. 14th after an employee alerted officials to getting correspondence intended for someone else.The university reports that it wasn TMt until Jan. 20th that Coventry provided them with an explanation of what went wrong. Coventry said it implemented new safeguards to prevent a similar type of error from happening in the future.On Jan. 21st, MU mailed out its own letters to employees affected by the mailing error. The letter tells those affected to ask their health providers to confirm the identity of anyone trying to get medical services using their insurance cards. The letter also instructs to carefully review their Coventry correspondence to look out for any unauthorized insurance claims.At this point, Coventry is not reissuing ID numbers to those affected by the error because the Coventry ID number is a variation of the university-issued identification number, according to Stuck, who said that the University will closely monitor those ID numbers.In a press release, MU said that it has asked Coventry to take steps to recover the misdirected mail. The press release also said that Coventry is cooperating fully with the university and that Coventry has assured the university that the matter is their highest priority.The University said those enrolled in the Catastrophic Medical Program and the Retiree Indemnity Medical Program were not affected.