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April 23, 2024

UnitedHealth subsidiary’s data breach could impact ‘substantial proportion’ of Americans

Photo | Contributed UnitedHealthcare has exclusive signage rights at CityPlace I in Hartford.

Insurer UnitedHealth Group, whose subsidiaries UnitedHealthcare and Optum have a presence in downtown Hartford and other parts of the region, announced that it is offering support for people affected by a cyberattack so widespread that it “could cover a substantial proportion of people in America.”

On Monday, UnitedHealth paid a ransom to cyberthreat actors in an effort to prevent them from releasing patient data, following the February cyberattack on its subsidiary Change Healthcare, according to CNBC. 

The company did not specify the amount of the ransom.

According to the announcement, UnitedHealth discovered 22 screenshots of stolen files containing patients’ protected health information or personally identifiable information. The company said no other data has been published, and it had not seen evidence that doctors’ charts or full medical histories were accessed in the breach.

UnitedHealth said it is working with leading external industry experts to monitor whether more data is leaked, and remains in communication with law enforcement and regulators.

Change Healthcare, which provides payment and revenue management tools, processes more than 15 billion transactions annually. One in every three patient records – not just UnitedHealth members’ – passes through its systems, according to the announcement.

“We know this attack has caused concern and been disruptive for consumers and providers and we are committed to doing everything possible to help and provide support to anyone who may need it,” said Andrew Witty, CEO of UnitedHealth.  

UnitedHealth, which has more than 152 million customers, said it is likely to take several months to determine the extent of the breach.

The company has created a website,, where patients can get information about resources available.

A dedicated call center has been established to offer free credit monitoring and identity theft protections for two years to anyone impacted. The call center can be reached at 1-866-262-5342.

Some of Change Healthcare’s services remain unavailable, but the company says it has made progress toward restoring services.

Pharmacy services are back to near-normal levels, with 99% of pre-incident pharmacies able to process claims, according to the announcement.

Also, medical claims across the U.S. health system are now flowing at near-normal levels as systems come back online or providers switch to other methods of submission, the announcement states.

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