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2,643 Medi-Cal cards accidentally mailed to the wrong families

Photo by HarshLight via Flickr Creative Commons

A computer programming error is being blamed for a mass mailing mixup — California's Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) reported Saturday that 2,643 Medi-Cal benefits identification cards were sent to the wrong families.

According to a news release, the BIC cards were meant for some of the children making the Jan. 1 transition from the Healthy Families Program to Medi-Cal.

“The protection of private information is a top priority for DHCS,” said DHCS Director Toby Douglas. “We take any breach of personal health information very seriously, and we sincerely regret that this information was released. We have increased our efforts to ensure that all information is appropriately protected.”

Despite the personal information displayed on the card, the department asserts a "low likelihood that this incident could result in identity theft or fraud." DHCS says it is working to accurately deliver the switched cards before the first of the year, and estimates 1.5 percent of the 179,697 children in the group were affected. 

In total, 860,000 children will transition from HFP to Medi-Cal in 2013. DHCS say quality assurance measures have been taken to prevent future, similar errors.

The process includes a forensic analysis to confirm that all other related data is handled properly. A security specialist firm will also be retained to examine information security policies and procedures and to make recommendations for improvements.

Families sent cards by mistake will receive a self-addressed stamped envelope to mail them back. Additionally, a helpline has been set up at 1-855-297-5064, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.