TAMPA - WellCare Health Plans said Tuesday that it inadvertently allowed private information about some of its Georgia members to be publicly accessed via the Internet.
Amy Knapp, a spokeswoman for the Tampa-based health insurance company, said WellCare has secured the data on its computer system and removed it from public view on the Internet. The company thinks about 10,000 Georgia members had their Social Security numbers exposed, but it plans to send letters to about 70,000 of its 450,000 members in Georgia advising them of the privacy breach. Knapp said privacy experts think about 53 member files were accessed via the Internet.
WellCare said members of its Georgia Families plan in Georgia were affected when a company employee inadvertently made the records available for public view. The company is offering to pay for one year of credit monitoring for members affected by the privacy breach.
Exposed files did not contain credit card, debit or other personal financial information, the company said.
But personal information such as birth dates, Social Security, and member identification numbers for Medicaid or PeachCare for Kids may have been released. The company said the error was reported March 20 by a Georgia member to the company's customer service center in Tampa, but was overlooked until it was brought to the attention of a supervisor who immediately alerted senior executives and Georgia officials. The company secured the data on its computer March 28 and removed Internet access to the files April 2.
"We regret that this incident has occurred," said Mike Cotton, president of WellCare's Georgia region.
The company said it has retained a national technology company to assess its privacy controls.