In the first settlement of a HIPAA enforcement action brought by a state attorney general under the new authority granted by the HITECH Act, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced that the state had entered into an agreement with Health Net for failing to secure patient health and financial information.  The AG had brought suit in January based on Health Net’s loss of a hard drive containing over 500,000 individuals’ records including clinical data, social security numbers, addresses, and other financial information. The company had concluded that the hard drive had been lost due to theft. Compounding the damage, the AG alleged that the company had delayed notifying the affected individuals for over six months.

The press release issued by the AG states:

  • Under this settlement, Health Net and its affiliates have agreed to:
    • A “Corrective Action Plan” in which Health Net is implementing several detailed measures to protect health information and other private data in compliance with HIPAA. This plan includes continued identity theft protection, improved systems controls, improved management and oversight structures, improved training and awareness for its employees, and improved incentives, monitoring, and reports.
    • A $250,000 payment to the state representing statutory damages. This payment is intended as a future deterrent to such conduct not only by Health Net, but by other insurers and health care entities that are entrusted with individuals’ private information.
    • An additional contingent payment to the state of $500,000, should it be established that the lost disk drive was accessed and personal information used illegally, impacting plan members.

The full settlement is here