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Guest Blog from GRA: Have there been HIPAA breaches by insurance agencies?

This week, I’m off singing at the Newport Music Festival.

On to the blog of the week from our partner GRA Benefits. This is a very interesting look at what is going on with HIPAA breaches and insurance agents. Now onto the blog:

Yes! In 2014, there have been two reported insurance agent breaches.

On January 1st, AppleCare Insurance Services had a laptop stolen. The laptop contained an unknown number of individuals’ Protected Health Information. AppleCare provided notification to the individuals, local news sources and HHS, and is still under investigation.

In April, Maschino, Hudelson & Associates notified about 5,500 staff and clients of a breach. A laptop containing personal information, including Social Security numbers, was stolen from a worker’s car.

Both incidents were due to a theft of an unencrypted laptop. Encrypting your mobile devices, including smart phones, can be a lifesaver. If either situation had involved an encrypted laptop, the agencies may have been able to avoid breach notification.

Since the Omnibus Rule was effective as of last September, business associates – a.k.a. insurance agents – are being audited directly by the government. Therefore, each of these agencies could be fined up to $1.5 million. [Editor’s note: Remember, the potential $1.5 million fine is the cap for a single violation. If HHS finds the agencies didn’t have security policies and procedures in place, that would be another violation, and subject to another penalty that could be an additional $1.5 million fine. There is no cap on the total amount of fines an agency can accrue.]

For more information on the services that GRA provides, please click here.

By: Bridgette O’Connor

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