Anthem data breach affects more than 750,000 Pennsylvania customers
More than 750,000 Pennsylvanians might have had personal information divulged in an expansive data breach at Anthem Inc., but it isn’t clear how many Western Pennsylvanians are on the list, Downtown-based Highmark Inc. said Wednesday.
Affected Pennsylvanians are either Anthem members who live in the state or members of Pennsylvania Blue-branded health plans — such as Highmark’s — who received health care in an Anthem service area in the last decade, Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger said.
The Indianapolis-based Anthem’s service area spans 14 states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Ohio and Virginia.
“We continue to reconcile files with Anthem in their investigation, so we cannot speculate on the total number of Highmark (customers) impacted at this time,” Billger said in a statement. He said Highmark will send letters to affected customers as soon as next week.
The correspondence will alert customers to the problem and encourage them to follow Anthem’s instructions for free identity protection services, Billger said.
Anthem, a Blue Cross group that ranks as the nation’s second-largest health insurance company, disclosed the breach Feb. 5. A cyber attack snagged account information for as many as 80 million current and former customers and employees, the company has said.
On Tuesday, Anthem said 8.8 million to 18.8 million people who were members of other plans in the Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance association could be victims.
Customer names, birth dates, medical IDs, Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and employment information such as income data got caught up in the heist, according to the company. The digital break-in ranks among the largest to hit the health care sector.
“We encourage consumers to watch out for any unauthorized charges on their bank or credit card statements, to regularly review their credit reports and to be mindful of email ‘phishing schemes,’ ” said Aaron Sadler, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
He said Kane is joining her counterparts in other states looking into the source of the attack and its effects. Insurance customers may call Kane’s health care help line at (877) 888-4877 for assistance, Sadler said.
An Anthem spokesman did not respond Wednesday to Tribune-Review questions. The company has indicated it will provide credit monitoring, identity repair, fraud detection and other services for two years to those affected.
Investigations by the company and federal authorities are ongoing. Anthem said it will start mailing letters next week to its own customers and other people whose data might be exposed.
Billger said Highmark, the fourth-largest Blue Cross company in the country, often assesses and improves its own security infrastructure. He did not specify whether Highmark changed its protocols specifically in response to the Anthem attack.
Reuters contributed to this report. Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or [email protected].