Cyberattack on UnitedHealthcare Affiliate Disrupts Prescription Orders Nationwide

A cyberattack targeting Change Healthcare, a unit affiliated with UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, has caused widespread disruption to prescription orders at thousands of pharmacies for nearly a week. Discovered last Wednesday, the attack, suspected to be orchestrated by a foreign country according to senior federal law enforcement officials, has prompted UnitedHealth Group to disconnect some of Change Healthcare’s digital network from its clients. As of Monday, full restoration of services had not been achieved.

Change Healthcare, acquired by UnitedHealth Group for $13 billion in 2022, processes approximately 15 billion transactions annually, handling a significant portion of U.S. patient records, including prescriptions, dental, clinical, and other medical needs. The disturbance has affected various entities, including U.S. military overseas, as Change serves as a digital intermediary for pharmacies to verify patients’ insurance coverage.

The attack’s impact has been significant, with reports indicating that some patients have had to pay for prescriptions in cash due to insurance coverage uncertainties. Smaller pharmacies heavily reliant on Change have faced challenges in handling prescription orders, leading to delays in patient care. Tricare, covering the U.S. military, has resorted to manual prescription filling due to the disruption.

Details regarding the attack, including potential data theft, remain limited. Change Healthcare has provided periodic updates on its website, stating that affected services may remain unavailable for at least another day. While the company expressed confidence that other parts of United’s businesses were not targeted, the motives behind the attack are yet to be determined.

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