When the medical information and personal data of 80 million Americans was hacked at Anthem Blue Shield it served as a wakeup call. It provides us with another way concerned professionals can educate and warn their clients about keeping personal data safe.

Get this: The information gained by the hackers – including social security numbers and birth dates and even income – are an identity thief’s dream, and the massive breach makes clear that any record can be at risk when companies fail to take security seriously.

So it’s even more disturbing that Anthem and Blue Shield in California began sharing all of their customers’ private medical information with a third party database called Cal INDEX last year.  They didn’t even have their privacy policy in place fully when they lurched ahead to put everyone’s information into a central place that was obviously vulnerable. 

That database could become one-stop-shopping for medical information hackers, yet Anthem and Blue Shield won’t allow consumers to see the information in the database, stop their records from being collected or delete them from the database entirely.

Most seniors in our country have Medicare as their primary health insurance. However, they also buy so called Medigap insurance to cover the 20% of medical bills that Medicare doesn’t cover.  If Anthem Blue Shield, the biggest private insurer in the country is so lax in its privacy protection that a hacker could get all its information on 80 million people, you can be sure other insurance carriers are also vulnerable. That includes Medigap insurers who store all manner of personal data on its customers, all of whom are seniors.

What would identity thieves look for with seniors?  Anyone with a diagnosis of dementia. Easily manipulated target! Anyone who is widowed.  Great target, maybe lonely!  Anyone with high income. More to steal!  And it goes on.

What can YOU as a concerned professional do?  We at AgingInvestor.com are all about urging you to have a regular channel of communication with your aging clients.  If you have your own client list, you can send out emails, hard copy mails, or create videos for YouTube pieces.  Even a few minutes of information can help protect them if they realize they need protection.  What should it say?

OPT OUT of any data collection in a central place for any insurance company if that option exists. The risk of allowing your personal data to be shared is not worth the alleged benefit.

We created this blog post from AgingInvestor to keep ideas coming for you to share with your senior clients. Make good use of it. Lots of seniors don’t fully understand how the internet works and may not understand that they have a right to say “no” to having their information shared. Help them see that right and teach them to exercise it.  Signing an opt out letter may be a choice you can educate them to make.

Just for you, we created a free sample letter you can send to your clients to help educate them about opting out when they can. Get it by clicking HERE. 

Please share this blog with your colleagues. We all need to join together to stop the $36.48 billion problem of elder financial abuse!

Until next time,

Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder Law Attorney

Dr. Mikol Davis, Psychologist, Gerontologist


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