Letter to the editor | Beware the risks

July 19, 2013 

Regarding Penn State’s new “Highmark Wellness Rewards” program, consider this.

Health insurer WellPoint Inc. agreed on July 11 to pay a fine of $1.7 million for allowing health and other personal information from hundreds of thousands of people to be accessed over the Internet, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Security weaknesses in a WellPoint online application database exposed information for 612,402 individuals between October 2009 and March 2010, according to the agency.

Despite good-faith statements that data collected are “completely confidential,” there can be no real assurance about the future.

It will take Congress, not Penn State, to address this, with severe — including criminal — penalties for such breaches.

For now, however, “Rewards” (with its alternative $100 month surcharge) is a done deal. Just be aware that it is not privacy-risk free.

Richard Taylor

State College

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