UM employee information mailed to wrong addresses because of computer error

Monday, January 24, 2011 | 6:31 p.m. CST; updated 6:52 p.m. CST, Monday, January 24, 2011

COLUMBIA —  A computer error earlier this month caused personal health information about 750 University of Missouri System employees to be sent to the wrong addresses.

Explanation of benefits, prior authorization letters, service appeals and new ID cards were the potential contents of the misdirected mailings, said Kelley Stuck, who oversees benefit programs for UM faculty and staff.

Mailings may have contained personal information, such as name, member number and birth date. They did not contain Social Security numbers or mental health and pharmacy records.

Affected employees were part of the Choice Health Program. Close to 20,000 employees participate in UM's health care program, and 90 percent are in the program in question.

"It was a very small number affected," Stuck said.

The problem was caused by a computer malfunction at Coventry Health Care, which provides the university's health benefit plans, Stuck said. 

It occurred between Jan. 6 and 10, according to a UM System news release. Roman Kulich, president and CEO of Coventry Health Care in St. Louis, was quoted in the release as saying the organization took "immediate corrective actions to address this error."

The malfunction occurred when a file was rerun after a breakdown, Stuck said.

According to the release, Coventry Health Care has put in place safeguards to prevent future errors of this kind, Kulich said.

A UM employee reported the incident to university officials on Jan. 14, Coventry responded on Jan. 20, and the university notified affected program participants on Jan. 21. Participants in the Catastrophic Medical Program and the Retiree Indemnity Medical Program were not involved.

At first, "they knew there was a problem and identified some errors, but they did not know the extent of the problem," she said. "They were trying to get their facts straight before they contacted us."

Stuck said this is the first time she is aware of such a problem occurring.

"I think Coventry has really made this a priority in terms of not only getting this corrected, but also making sure members were notified and correct information went out," she said.

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