Minnesota Obamacare exchange leaks private information of 2,400 people

By: Joshua Cook
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Last month, an employee of MNsure, Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange, accidentally sent an unencrypted email to the wrong person.  The email contained the private information of over two thousand people, and went to a local insurance broker.

The broker, Jim Koester, deleted the information, and later reported it, but the incident was a striking illustration of the insecurity of the Obamacare system.  The data included names, addresses and Social Security numbers, as well as other information.  As Koester told the Minnesota Star Tribune, “What if this had fallen into the wrong hands?  It’s scary.  If this is happening now, how can clients of MNsure be confident that their data is safe?”

Though the majority of Americans were ideologically skeptical of Obamacare when it was initially passed, it has been developments in the past few months which have illustrated practical problems with the program’s implementation.  Members of Congress and experts have been concerned for weeks about database integrity and design flaws, as well as the selection of employees trusted with the data.

The incident also compounds concerns Obamacare critics have expressed since the beginning about the program’s data mining.  As long as it’s stored at a state level, doctors are encouraged to ask very private information about individuals.  The data does not only include identifiers such as name, address and SSN, but also income, citizenship status, tax information, family size, citizenship, health plan enrollment, incarceration status and even gun ownership.

Some of this data cannot be stored at the federal level, but it can be stored at the state level and used by the federal government at any time.  The fact that the system, called the Hub, is run by thousands of unvetted, low level federal employees, who can easily access it for their own gain or spread it to others unintentionally, only adds to that concern.  The recent NSA and IRS scandals have shown how willing the government is to abuse its possession of such information, and Obamacare has now revealed how insecure this possession is.


This leak – and the similar ones which will inevitably follow – also comes at a time in which this data can impact people’s lives most strongly.  Not only can leaks lead to identity theft, they can lead to the publishing of information which leads to simple conflict which would not otherwise happen.  In 2009, for instance, Wikileaks – which relies almost exclusively on leaks by government employees – published the membership list of the controversial British National Party, which remains online today and has led to firings.

Obamacare’s collection and storing of data on private citizens is wrong, but the fact that it is handled with such irresponsibility is unconscionable.  The October 1 MNsure leak was a perfect illustration of this problem, and a situation which will likely be repeated with less benign results.  As Democrats refuse to make any compromise whatsoever on Obamacare, it’s worthwhile to note the severe problems, both ideological and practical, of the system.

Ben Swann warned the public on this risk. See article here.  Unfortunately the possibility of American’s personal data being breached in this massive Government program has now become a reality.

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Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook is a writer and a political activist. His articles have also been cited on sites such as DrudgeReport, InfoWars, Reason.com, WND.com, Breitbart.com, DailyCaller and FreedomOutPost.com. If you have any tips please email him at [email protected]

  • Glenn Williams

    This didn’t happen on October 1st. This happened on September 12th. This Obamacare debacle is bad enough, we don’t need to make stuff up just for effect. We also shouldn’t just accept a story that is read on another website as correct without doing some due diligence.

    http://www.startribune.com/business/223564521.html

    • Jason

      Even the Minnesota Star Tribune article that was linked is dated 09/14/2013.

    • Anthony Dotson

      Agreed. I like the fact that we have alternative media such as this site, but it is sad that I have to do my own research every time I see an article here. Fact: this happened before the exchanges went up. Fact: it was the personal information on insurance agents that was disclosed, not applicants (since there were no applicants in September). Still a serious security breach (in fact, probably more serious than stated here) but it invalidates every claim in this article.

      • TheWholeTruth

        Where did this article state that these ‘people’ were ‘applicants?’ Seems we have a bit of a perception/comprehension problem as well.

        I’m NOT saying everything in here is accurate, but again, one must not ‘fill in the blanks’ of information not given.

      • Daimyo

        Yea and everytime I watch CNN, CNBC, FOX, all other conglomerate owned media, I don’t question it and research it myself..

        Get real, I feel like we have the Obama truth squad roaming and trolling the comments section.

  • same.ol.story

    Glenn is right. You should be more careful when posting Josh.

  • Crystal Gonzalez

    Another story like this, and I’m gone Ben. This article is using the wrong dates and shows an astounding lack of journalism. This isn’t the first time an article with misleading information has been on this page

    • Kevin Merck

      See you later.

      • Anthony Dotson

        Crystal has a point. The entire claim of this article is completely false and easily proven so by researching the facts. All you have to do is click the links to get to the original article. Just because I agree with the political bent of this page doesn’t mean I can excuse sloppy journalism. All the author had to do was click on a single link to realize nothing in this article is true. There was a security breach–of insurance agents. Not applicants. Still a serious concern though.

        • Kevin Merck

          “sloppy journalism”

          No, that would be Kristen Tate.

          The fact that you’re not on her thread bashing the worst “journalism” I’ve ever seen is proof positive that you have no credibility.

          • Anthony Dotson

            Nobody is denying that there is sloppy journalism elsewhere. The fact remains, one single mouse-click would have proven that this article is false. One single click of the mouse to go to the original news article rather than relying on hearsay. You can’t deny that fact.

          • Kevin Merck

            Now do your job and go over to Tate’s latest post where she equates “Libertarians with drug dealers”.
            Otherwise you have nothing to say.

          • Anthony Dotson

            Anyone on this page is well aware of the misinformation on both the left and right regarding libertarians (if you had bothered to look me up in the slightest you would see your insinuated accusations are completely baseless). But please answer me this. Are you denying that a SINGLE CLICK OF THE MOUSE would have led to the original article being cited here and would have proven that the claims made here are completely false?

          • Kevin Merck

            You are sounding like a feminist nutcase who likes to attack anyone but Kristen Tate.
            If you have been critical of Tate, then good for you. I don’t have time to research every moron like you who responds to one of my comments.
            Now run along like a good girl.

          • Anthony Dotson

            lol… last I checked this thread was referring to this one article. I am staying on topic. You are excusing this sorry excuse for journalism by referring to another person that has nothing whatsoever to do with this piece. And making baseless accusations besides. I love it.

          • Sierra Porter

            Don’t take Kevin seriously, really. Everything he says is sarcastic B.S. designed to get the maximum impact. So, unless you like arguing over nothing, I’d just ignore him. :P

        • TheWholeTruth

          Anthony, Our minds fill in what information that is not given. WHERE in this article did it say “applicants?” I only see “people.” “People” can be anyone, from applicants to insurance agents. It isn’t further defined by anything. So are you saying that this article is false and, over 2000 ‘people’ didn’t have their information sent to the wrong place? Just curious.

          • Anthony Dotson

            It says this happened on October 1. False. It says this happened less than 24 hours after the exchange opened. False. Both easily researched by a single click of the mouse. Click the link to the Daily Caller article linked to in the second paragraph which is dated 9-14 and based on an article in a Minnesota paper dated 9-13… weeks before the incident supposedly occurred on 10-1. The links in this article themselves prove the first paragraph to be bogus. As I said… and I CLEARLY stated. The leaking of information of insurance agents is a serious matter. But the entirety of the first paragraph of this article is inconsistent with the very sources it references. Not to nit-pick here, but the second paragraph is also incorrect (though this can be excused by a simple misunderstanding) when it states that the agent who received the information deleted it and then reported it. The Minnesota article seems to indicate he was walked through how to permanently delete the data by IT people at the exchange itself. One last time, let me stress… I am not defending the exchange, the people running it, Obamacare, or anything else. I am simply saying that we do ourselves no good when we advance absolutely false information like this. In fact, the true story is worse for Obamacare supporters than this article states, because if they have this kind of information on the insurance agents and it is that insecure, imagine how much worse it is for the applicants!

        • Braindawgs

          This article here does state “people”, not applicants as you stated, and the linked article states that 2000+ insurance agent’s personal data had been given away, so I don’t know how you can find this as an inconsistency when “insurance agents” are most likely “people.” Also, if there are so many other inconsistencies with this article, please list them, since this article right here only has two or three paragraphs even focusing on the Daily Caller article, so there can’t be too many comparison issues between them.

          • Anthony Dotson

            Unfortunately, one of the articles (the one that he was practically quoting) has changed in the last several hours. So the references he was making aren’t as obvious now. If you had read it (I believe it was the HotAir article) 4-5 hours ago you would see they were CLEARLY and unequivocally saying it was applicants whose data was compromised. But that entire paragraph appears to have mysteriously vanished now. I should have taken a screenshot of it at the time I suppose. I do concede that it says “people” if you wish to nit-pick and claim that the term did not refer to applicants (though since the entire article refers specifically to the privacy of data for applicants you can’t deny the insinuation at the least). You cannot deny that the entire first paragraph is 100% false. Made up. Entirely incorrect. Use whatever words you wish. Whether the mistake is one of negligence where the author couldn’t be bothered to actually look at the articles he himself was referencing… or whether it was intentionally misleading I will leave up to others to decide. But it is still wrong and is easily researched as being wrong. Yes, I get worked up when conservative and libertarian sites report blatantly false information, partly because I want to believe those whose opinions I share will hold themselves up to a higher standard of telling the truth.

          • Braindawgs

            Well sure, I agree with the rest of the inconsistencies but you’ve just got to be consistent on all your claims as well in order for credibility to be given, since the name of the game here is consistency and credibility with everyone.

  • Kevin Merck

    Well, Josh, this is a tough crowd if you’re not a female.

    I don’t see anything wrong with this article. At least it’s on an important issue, and Ben did an excellent piece on this very topic which didn’t get much attention.

    It seems tattoos, marijuana and prostitution were more important issues.

  • Jared

    First sentence in: “sent an unencrypted email” ummm all email is unencrypted.

    • Anthony Dotson

      Actually not true. There are methods of encrypting emails. Additionally, attachments can be encrypted by several methods even if the email itself is unencrypted. Still, there are enough other factual inaccuracies with this article to justify its retraction in its entirety.

    • http://senexcanis.com Jashua Cloutier

      look up PGP email. Its a way to encrypt email

    • ohbummer

      No its not, since the guy who got the email see all the names and SSN of the people. If the email was encrypted he wouldnt have been able to see all that info. A simple PW lock on the file could have prevented this.

    • HE3

      Splitting hairs by being too literal. The point is, the data was sent out in the open. That’s what counts.

  • Reje

    Ahh…this happened a month ago. Not just this week.

    • Daimyo

      “Last month, an employee of MNsure, Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange, accidentally sent an unencrypted email to the wrong person.”

      Jeeze did you even read the article?

  • Luap Seugirdor

    So what if the date is wrong. The act still occurred. However all journalists should make a point of editing their stories before posting them. That way we can avoid all this bickering about little things and make the comments on the point of the article and not the mistakes in it.

  • Steve

    So what is the big surprise here? Did anyone really think that our private life is private. What privacy we had when Bush was in office was completely stolen when Obomba came into office. Don’t be fooling yourselves.

  • Herekittiez

    They already messed up my information. I have tried numerous times to fill out my forms and they said at the last security question that I lived at a 513 area code.I live in another part of Ohio and never have lived in Cincinnati ever. They need to fix there forms!

  • Cheryl Newcomb

    I wouldn’t go near this disaster in a million years. Anyone giving these incompetent fools any information is crazy. Anyone thinking for one minute that this corrupt, bloated, out of control Government would do anything altruistic for the American People needs their heads examined.

  • http://www.anarchocapitalism.us/ Ethan Glover

    Obamacare is a huge move, and I don’t think we will know its full impact for a very long time. This is Obama’s Patriot Act.

  • lost freedom

    You never hear of the incidents where the info was leaked and not reported. How high is a realistic approximation for the actual number of leaks, including those not reported?

  • lost freedom

    Obamacare is about grabbing power. If it were really about health care, the government would be opening up free clinics everywhere where anybody could go anonymously. Instead they steal your private info even if you never get sick and force you to do business with crooks you’d prefer to boycott.

  • A Patriot

    Oh happy day when there’s talk about impeachment for treason. Hasn’t he committed enough? Didn’t he take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution? All that seems to come out of his mouth are lies. Nothing will be resolved unless he’s impeached, it will get worse before it gets better.

    • RageFury

      You have to go through something like 17 losers, maybe more, before you find someone worthy of the Office that can take it. Impeachment, while a good thought, will not help.