More than 43,000 Hawaii residents could be at risk of identity theft after documents with their confidential health insurance information were copied and possibly distributed, state officials said. The documents, which contained patients' Social Security numbers and other personal information, were being used in a civil lawsuit that the state brought against the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the United Public Workers union and others. They were copied at the request of Hawaii's attorney general by a professional copying service in Honolulu. But federal officials informed the state in January that unauthorized copies of some of the records had been made and been found by police on a computer used by a person under investigation for drug offenses. The U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which are investigating the case, had asked that the theft not be disclosed to the public until now, the state said. The records in question include those of patients covered by Kaiser Permanente, the Hawaii Medical Service Association, Kapiolani Health Hawaii, Royal State National Insurance, ChiroPlan Hawaii, Hawaii Dental Service and Vision Service Plan.
Last month, Los Angeles County officials sent out letters warning 94,000 people of possible identity theft after documents containing their confidential information were left next to a recycling bin outside a Department of Public Social Services office. Providence Health System, Portland, Ore., and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida also recently reported information security breaches and the possible theft of patient data. -- by Laura B. Benko