Security breach compromises Fallon patient data

January 24, 2008

By Mark Hollmer, Boston Business Journal

A vendor computer containing personal information on nearly 30,000 patients of Fallon Community Health Plan has been stolen, the insurer announced Thursday.

The Worcester-based health insurer said Thursday that someone stole a vendor's laptop computer believed to contain personal information for members with Fallon Senior Plan and Summit ElderCare coverage. The data included names, dates of birth, some diagnostic information and medical ID numbers -- some of which may be based on Social Security numbers. The information did not include addresses.

The computer was taken from the offices of a third-party vendor contracted by Fallon to handle medical claims management. The theft was discovered earlier this month, but Fallon could not confirm until last week what kind of information was on the computer.

Fallon President and CEO Eric Schultz apologized in a statement issued by the plan late Thursday afternoon.

About 191,000 people subscribe to various plans offered by the insurer. The information on the stolen laptop involves 29,800 patients, or about 15 percent of the membership.

Schultz said the health plan doesn't think the data on the laptop were a target of the theft, but that the insurer is taking a number of precautions. FCHP will offer free credit monitoring through Equifax, for the next year, to any affected Fallon Senior Plan and Summit ElderCare members.

Those individuals have also been mailed letters notifying them of the incident, and FCHP has alerted regulatory authorities to the theft.

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