Blue Shield discloses 18,000 doctors' Social Security numbers

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The Social Security numbers of roughly 18,000 California physicians and health-care providers were inadvertently made public after a slip-up at health insurance provider Blue Shield of California, the organization said Monday.

The numbers were included in monthly filings on medical providers that Blue Shield is required to make to the state's Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC). The provider rosters for February, March and April 2013 included the data and were available under the state's public records law.

"Because they did not recognize their error, Blue Shield did not mark the rosters as confidential or otherwise alert the DMHC to the inclusion of the SSNs," the Department of Managed Health Care said in a letter to affected individuals.