Cover Oregon error puts personal info in wrong hands

Valarie Henderson, 55, of Salem says she was already reluctant about applying for health insurance through Cover Oregon, the state's new health insurance exchange. But after she received sensitive and personal information of complete strangers — also Cover Oregon applicants — in the mail, what little faith she had in the system evaporated.

"To have the very people you feel should be on your side and they're being this incompetent ..." Henderson said in disbelief.

About a month ago, Henderson mailed in her 19-page Cover Oregon application. A week later, she got a phone call from a worker who said her forms were not complete — namely, the information regarding her projected 2014 income. Henderson, who receives Social Security disability income, had answered it with a question mark.

On Wednesday, she found in her mail a packet from Cover Oregon. The cover letter asked her to fill in the missing information. But as she flipped through the pages, she was shocked to see that along with her own application were pages from other people's applications, as well.

On them are names, birth dates, income and Social Security information.

"I felt sorry for these people," Henderson said at her home Thursday. "I haven't even thought of all the repercussions."

Spokesman Michael Cox said Cover Oregon was aware of the security breach and the incident is under investigation. He could not say whether Henderson's story was an isolated situation or if other examples of information leaks have occurred.

"We take our customers' privacy and security seriously and are committed to protecting their personal information," Cox said. "We will conduct a full review of our procedures and swiftly make any recommended improvement."

Henderson's first reaction was to call the people whose forms she received, but the contact information page was not included in the pile. Now she's worried that her information is lost in someone else's mail.

"I'm sure this isn't the only one," she said. "I know they're dealing with millions of them ."

The one bright spot Henderson could find in her mix-up with Cover Oregon is that she, an honest person, received the papers — and not an identity thief.

Still, it should've never happened, she said.

"This is the biggest no-no, to send someone else's private information," Henderson said.

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