The federal government, to the frustration of many, including brokers and advisers, reset passwords for all users in response to any threat posed by Heartbleed, an internet security bug that leaves personal information on some websites vulnerable to hackers.

While there’s no indication Heartbleed has posed any specific threat to, all consumer passwords have been reset “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services memo the agency says was sent to consumers Thursday.

The agency says it has notified all consumers, but not everybody has gotten the message, including brokers working with consumers on their coverage obtained through the Affordable Care Act’s public health insurance exchanges. 

Ronnell Nolan, president and CEO of Health Agents for America, based in Baton Rouge, La., says she never saw any notice about the password resets until contacting CMS for assistance with signing onto the website on behalf of her clients.

“Our clients haven't been able to sign back into their accounts,” says Nolan. “None of the clients I am aware of have received this CMS notification, nor have my agents.”

“This is another reason why the disconnect between CMS and the agent community is affecting the specific people the ACA is supposed to help,” she adds. “Our clients are calling us confused, wanting answers.”

Liz Gallops, an individual insurance specialist with Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Allegacy Business Solutions says she hasn’t heard from any clients affected by the password resets, but her firm did issue notice to its enrollees to change their passwords.

The number of clients frustrated by the issue is likely to become more apparent, she says, as people begin to try to log-in to make mid-year changes, such as adding a dependent or adjusting income.

CMS is advising all consumers to create a unique password, one that has not been used on other websites.

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