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posted by hubie on Saturday February 24, @11:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the who-could-have-known-monopolies-are-bad dept.

As reported by Tech Crunch, a cyber attack has crippled the systems used to process eScripts and Prescription billing for most of the Nation. Change Healthcare, a Subsidiary of Optum, which is in turn a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group. Few details have emerged on exactly what happened, but the company's status page states that "Once we became aware of the outside threat, in the interest of protecting our partners and patients, we took immediate action to disconnect our systems to prevent further impact."

As of 2020 there were several competing "switches" which are essentially APIs for processing claims between pharmacies and carriers and transferring prescription information from physicians to pharmacies, but McKesson, who acquired the competing RelayHealth solution in 2006, sold it to UnitedHealth in 2020 as they divested in their tech division. This was initially fought by the DOJ as anti-competitive since it gave potential access to competitor's trade secrets, but DOJ gave up on the case in March of last year, which in retrospect seems like the wrong decision.

Pharmacists across the country are reporting issues receiving and billing prescriptions, and some hospital workers even report having to turn away cancer patients due to an inability to bill for their medication.

Hopefully this incident will be resolved quickly, and subsequently result in regulators revisiting their decisions and the impact it has on citizens' health and safety.


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  • (Score: 3, Touché) by looorg on Saturday February 24, @11:48AM (3 children)

    by looorg (578) on Saturday February 24, @11:48AM (#1346054)

    This online hack thing to disrupt some service, be it educational, commerce, health is starting to be tad boring. Not to mention apparently normal. The excuse that security is hard is getting old. Not to mention that these people just keep doing it and getting away with it. Some countries perhaps just need to be disconnected from the internet and these people hunted down like the dogs they are ala bank robbers of old. These people are after all disrupting and stealing more then any old bank robber ever could dream off.

    It's not that the old system was perfect, or that this system isn't ok when it's working and not getting hacked around the clock. But it's getting tedious to say the least that this just keeps happening over and over and over and ... over again and it seems like the solution is the shrug and go "them craaazy hackers!" as it was some kind of excuse or explanation.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by janrinok on Saturday February 24, @12:48PM (2 children)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 24, @12:48PM (#1346060) Journal

      It is not only hackers (modern definition, not ours), but spammers, swatters, doxxers and a host of other things that people do to spoil the enjoyment or use of the internet. I can at least understand the reasoning behind those who do it for personal profit even if I think that they are scum.

      Some people just seem to get some sort of pleasure out of causing misery for others from their own actions. I don't know, maybe it gives them a sense of power or something. They will freely admit that they are doing it to spoil other people's enjoyment. I released a Meta yesterday in which I mentioned our own spammers. They complain that they don't like the site yet they don't want to leave. And these are not some young kids who perhaps don't yet know any better. These are adults who have already lived in an adult world and have held responsible positions in society.

      As you say, it is not a new phenomenon. They have been around from the start of the internet. But you'd think that somebody might have worked out by now why they do what they do. Perhaps we need more mental health practitioners in our society.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Saturday February 24, @03:47PM (1 child)

        by bzipitidoo (4388) on Saturday February 24, @03:47PM (#1346083) Journal

        If there's no such thing as bad publicity, then disruptive and anti-social actions are a net benefit to the perps.

        My sympathies for the US health care industry are limited, considering what terrible price gougers and profiteers they are. Maybe they could, you know, be slightly less greedy and direct some of their enormous profits towards making sure they have decent security. Over the years, I have observed that medicine has been dragging their feet on their uses of technology. They're hot to trot out the latest medical device, but when it comes to the mundane stuff of making and keeping records, they've been behind. Still using fax machines.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Ox0000 on Saturday February 24, @07:54PM

          by Ox0000 (5111) on Saturday February 24, @07:54PM (#1346104)

          Maybe they could, you know, be slightly less greedy and direct some of their enormous profits towards making sure they have decent security.

          Have you no heart? Think of the poor CxO's of those companies, think of the pharmacy benefit managers. They literally live hand to mouth (your hand, their mouth) and now you want to take away their ability to buy that 7th mansion? You sir, are heartless!

          On the side: one of the reasons why fax machines are still so prevalent in that industry is because the industry believes they can trace provenance of faxes, whereas anyone could send an e-mail and impersonate anyone else. "It's an approved technology, so why open ourselves up to liability by mucking with it" (I know, I know, I'm just saying what they believe, not what reality is)
          So many things in this country boil down the lack of balls by the so-called entrepreneurs: they are so afraid of liability that they stop innovating and actively oppose _any_ form of change. Even though it's not that hard to avoid liability: just do good by your customers and they won't sue you. But no, that's 'expensive'...

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, @02:13PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, @02:13PM (#1346074)

    This is something that single-payer will NOT fix. Monopolies are bad, mmmmmkay?

    This is why I want universal healthcare, but most definitely do NOT WANT single-payer. Some aspects of UH will be unavoidably monopolistic, in particular the way the tax system works to compensate those who need help. You can't have multiple competing tax authorities--it's civil war; but everything else needs to stay competitive wherever possible. It may only be practical to have one supplier for a drug, and of course in that situations the price needs to be regulated. The aspects of any system that are controlled by a monopoly are the ones that you have to watch most closely, and are most susceptible to corruption. Let's not make the whole system like this.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by turgid on Saturday February 24, @03:29PM

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 24, @03:29PM (#1346081) Journal

      What a load of nonsense.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, @07:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, @07:56PM (#1346105)

      The aspects of any system that are controlled by a monopoly are the ones that you have to watch most closely, and are most susceptible to corruption

      Yeah, let's not switch to a system where there are "rumors of potential of abuse" from a system where there is proven abuse.
      "He beats me... but he says he loves me... and I believe him!"

      Makes sense to me...

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Revek on Saturday February 24, @02:37PM (6 children)

    by Revek (5022) on Saturday February 24, @02:37PM (#1346076)

    UnitedHealth is the worst insurance in the country. Its constantly sending me garbage discounts on shit like a peleton bike but wont pay for necessary blood testing required to take one of my medications.

    --
    This page was generated by a Swarm of Roaming Elephants
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Ox0000 on Saturday February 24, @07:59PM (4 children)

      by Ox0000 (5111) on Saturday February 24, @07:59PM (#1346106)

      That's because they're not in the business of keeping you healthy, they're in the business of getting as much money from you while you are healthy and dump you as soon as you are unhealthy.

      Single-payer, universal healthcare is truly the only way forward. Show me someone who lives under such a system and actually wants to exchange it(*) for what exists in the US with its "competition" and I'll show you someone lacking a bunch of their facilities.

      (*) note: that's not the same as saying "someone who's happy under that system", my argument is that they're happier under their system with all the warts it has than they would be under the US's system.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by PiMuNu on Saturday February 24, @09:17PM

        by PiMuNu (3823) on Saturday February 24, @09:17PM (#1346112)

        As a person who has recently used my nationalised healthcare (UK's NHS) for two separate issues (thankfully nothing serious), I can comment that I was seen by a consultant and dealt with promptly (within a couple of weeks) in both instances.

        It's a statistic of two, take from it what you will.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by hendrikboom on Saturday February 24, @10:09PM (2 children)

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 24, @10:09PM (#1346119) Homepage Journal

        When I fainted last July my adult child called 011 and I was carted off to hospital in an ambulance, monitored intensively for 24 hours, got a pacemaker installed the next day, and went home the day after.

        Total cost to me: 0

        I thought that was pretty efficient.

        Glad to still be alive in Canada.

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by Ox0000 on Sunday February 25, @04:25PM (1 child)

          by Ox0000 (5111) on Sunday February 25, @04:25PM (#1346187)

          <sarcasm>But... but.. that's communism... How did you manage to evade or convince the Death Panels(*) which inevitably appear in these systems because the government is totally, definitely out to kill you and thus forego the tax money you'd be bringing in in the future.</sarcasm>

          (*) Remember those?

          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by hendrikboom on Monday February 26, @01:00AM

            by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 26, @01:00AM (#1346248) Homepage Journal

            There *are* death panels here. They're to evaluate people who want to avail themselves of Medical Assistance In Dying, to determine whether life really is intolerable, and make sure the death isn't truly appropriate, desired, and and not a murder.

            I guess you could call the investigation a death panel if you wanted to.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, @08:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, @08:19PM (#1346108)

      > UnitedHealth is the worst insurance in the country.

      While you may be correct, there is a race to the bottom here and other companies are going for this prize too.

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