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Security Concerns on Federal Healthcare Website

By Mallory Peebles, Crime and Law Enforcement, Natural Resources and Parks Reporter, Fill-in Anchor, mpeebles@ktuu.com
Published On: Jan 17 2014 08:59:58 PM AKST
Updated On: Jan 17 2014 09:00:00 PM AKST

By Reporter Mallory Peebles.  (KTUU-TV)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

This week Healthcare.gov, the website Alaskans and millions of other Americas will use to shop for health insurance, received harsh criticism for its lack of adequate security.

"A house on bad foundation," one security researcher said.

A hearing in Washington, D.C. lambasted the website where users must enter sensitive information like social security numbers and addresses. Some said that information is at now at risk of being hacked.

Two members of the Peace family didn’t plan to sign up for insurance under the Afford Care Act. As Alaska Natives, they thought their health care needs were covered. But that's not the case for the entire family.

But the Peace family considered it because Janice's husband needed insurance, to keep from facing a penalty, they decided to start the process.

Like many trying to use the site, they ran into error pages and had a difficult time signing on.

“From the start I was like skeptical of (the website) because not many people were able to sign up with it from the get go," Janice said.

“At one point they asked for my social security number, and my kid's, and I was not comfortable with that. I told him, no, you can't have that information."

She says it didn't make sense to give their information when only her husband was trying to sign up.

Security professionals testified in D.C. that, as the website stands, there's a number of critical issues that could put personal information at risk.

The government agency overseeing the healthcare website disagrees. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services said, to date, there have been no successful security attacks and that the site has a robust system in place.

The non-profit Alaska Primary Care Association has 57 people across the state helping interested people sign up for the program. The association said so far they haven’t heard about any security concerns from its clients.

“As far as Healthcare.gov, it's linked directly to the government and I assume they've got things in place to protect the individuals using that site,” said Cherise Fowler with the association.

To date more than 3,000 Alaskans have signed up for insurance under the ACA. The Peace family said it will not be part of that total.