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Centene Corporation May Have Experienced Possible Data Breach

Update Date: Jan 28, 2016 09:05 AM EST

Health insurance giant and managed care provider, Centene Corp., publicly revealed in an official press statement that the company is currently in the process of doing an "ongoing comprehensive internal search for six hard drives" containing highly confidential records of its 950, 000 clients that remain unaccounted for.

"Centene takes the privacy and security of our members' information seriously. While we don't believe this information has been used inappropriately, out of abundance of caution and in transparency, we are disclosing an ongoing search for the hard drives," remarked Centene Corp. CEO Michael Neidorff as stated in the company's official statement released on Monday.

The company also notified the Securities and Exchange Commission of its current IT debacle in a regulatory filing with the said government agency.

As of press time, the fiasco is not yet officially declared as a data breach pending an ongoing investigation of the lost IT assets. However, the St. Louis-based healthcare firm is treating the incident as such out of caution.

According to 24/7 Wall St., the missing computer hard drives contain a wealth of information of nearly a million individuals who received lab services from 2009 to 2015 with their names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security number, member ID number, and other pertinent health records. The company strongly maintained, however, that no financial or payment details were exposed.

The lost hard drives supposedly formed part of the company's ambitious data project to utilize lab results of its patients in an attempt to improve healthcare outcomes.

To compensate the affected clients for its IT security failure, Centene is offering "free credit and healthcare monitoring".

In another note, Centene's big data flop is not the first case of possible data breach this year although, admittedly, it's the biggest one yet.

Earlier this month, Indiana University Health Arnett (IU Health Arnett) publicly announced that it is reeling from a possible data breach at the end of last year when an unencrypted storage drive containing spreadsheets of patients' personal health records were reported lost from the emergency department.

"IU Health Arnett takes very seriously its obligation to maintain patient information secure, and we appreciate the trust our patients place in us. We are taking steps to enhance the protection of portable storage devices and are reviewing policies and procedures to minimize the chance of such an incident occurring in the future," said the healthcare provider in their official statement as quoted by Health IT Security.

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