The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is adding security tools to after reports last week raised concerns about personal information shared on the government’s website to buy health insurance.

Marketplace Chief Executive Officer Kevin Counihan wrote in a Saturday blog post that will add a layer of encryption to the sites’ window shopping interface to reduce information that is provided to third parties who receive information from

The window shopping tool is an online calculator which allows a consumer to get an estimate of the cost of a policy by entering a zip code, income, age and checking a box if they’re a smoker, parent or pregnant — but does not require the consumer to login, the agency said.

By encrypting the site, it prevents third parties from viewing the data the consumer entered.

This comes after the Associated Press reported and The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a technology policy advocacy group confirmed,  that was sharing personal data, including ZIP code, income level, smoking status, pregnancy status and more, with at least 14 third parties.

Government officials told the Associated Press the information was  being used only to measure the performance of to assess and improve the user experience on the site. While the government site's privacy policy explicitly says it does not collect personally identifiable information about a visitor unless the visitor chooses to share that, it also states that such information may be used if that user has agreed to use by a third party.

In the Saturday post, HHS says while it has taken steps to improve, the department knows  “building and maintaining a website is an evolving process.  …. That’s why we will continue this review and take any concerns raised about privacy seriously and will work to address them.”

Additional reporting by Greg Goth, a  reporter for Health Data Management, a SourceMedia publication.

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