Centene can't find hard drives with 950,000 medical records

Health insurer Centene Corp. is hunting for six computer hard drives containing the personally identifiable health records of about 950,000 individuals, the company said Monday afternoon.

“While we don't believe this information has been used inappropriately, out of abundance of caution and in transparency, we are disclosing an ongoing search for the hard drives,” Michael Neidorff, CEO of the St. Louis-based managed-care company, said in a news release. Centene also referenced the announcement in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last year, health insurers were the source of some of the biggest healthcare data breaches on record.

Neidorff said the drives were being used in a data project that sought to use lab test results to improve members' health outcomes. The records on the missing drives include individuals' names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, member ID numbers and unspecified “health information.”

Members will be provided free credit and healthcare monitoring, the company statement said. Centene is also “in the process of reinforcing and reviewing its procedures related to managing its IT assets,” it said.

The publicly traded company focuses its business on Medicaid managed care. The company has a pending deal valued at $6.8 billion to acquire Health Net that will further strengthen its hand in that business.

Centene also provides services in behavioral and in-home healthcare, pharmacy benefits and telehealth.

Joseph Conn

Joseph Conn reports on information technology, privacy and data security. He has been a reporter and editor for 35 years for various news publications and taught journalism at Valparaiso (Ind.) University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in English. He also worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone. Conn joined Modern Physician in 2000, serving as reporter, editor and online editor. He joined Modern Healthcare in 2005.

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