Sheesh! Talk about poor timing...
On Sunday, Sarah Klifff of General Electric Vox gleefully reported on the "success" of the Connecticut Obamacare website. In fact so successful according to Kliff that Access Health CT is now thinking about selling its software to other states. However, unknown to Kliff who trumpeted her story with "How Connecticut built a healthcare.gov that actually works," a dark cloud appeared on the horizon that would rain on her parade just a day later. That rain came in the form of a report today from WTNH TV that a security breach had been discovered in her beloved website. However, before we present the gloomy reality, let us first indulge Kliff in her all too brief joy over an Obamacare website that finally, finally worked...until it was breached:
Access Health CT arguably had one of the most successful open enrollment seasons of any Obamacare marketplace this year — largely meaning the website had no major, months-long meltdowns like Healthcare.gov or some state-based sites.
The web portal did launch with a few bumps on October 1 but, by and large, has allowed Connecticut residents to sign up for insurance coverage relatively easily. And after this initial success, Access Health CT chief executive Kevin Counihan sees a business opportunity: selling the software behind their successful site to other states.
I had gotten to spend some time in Connecticut last year shortly before launch, when Counihan was paring down expectations for what the site would be able to do in its first year. While other states were boasting how great their new websites would be, he was out warning local business groups that, in year one, Obamacare would near certainly be a bumpy ride.
We caught up this week to talk about how open enrollment went, what may have set Connecticut apart from other states and why he thinks he can sell other states on using their product. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity and length.
What follows is a WTNH TV transcript, lightly edited for clarity and karma:
HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange is apologizing Monday and is quickly trying to make things right after a security breach.
In this age of high tech security breaches, this one was decidedly low tech. A backpack was found at a deli in downtown Hartford containing hand-written notepads with names addresses and some social security numbers and letterhead from ‘Access Health CT.’
Hmm. Does anybody know the going rate for such information now being paid by the Russian Mafia?
“Access Health CT” says the notepads and backpack belong to a call-center employee. Call center employees actually work for a company called; “Maximus,” the vendor that provides the call center services to “Access Health CT.”
“The number of physical individuals after this analysis was conducted that were actually included on these pads is 413 and there were 151 social security numbers,” said Jason Madrak, Access Health CT.
Let's see... Igor offered me ten bucks per social security number so that would equal...a day at the casino slots!
“The bottom line is that one of our team members made a mistake, violated our corporate policy and procedure for handling personal data,” said Ilene Baylinson, Maximus.
Yes, merely a mistake. He just happened to be idly doodling and innocently jotted down 413 names and 151 social security numbers.
And Baylinson says that employee has been placed on administrative leave is remorseful and fully cooperative.
Poor shugums! I bet that wet noodle whipping was quite painful. Don't forget to tenderly hug him when he returns to work.