STUDIO CITY ( — Covered California is defending its hiring of convicted felons to help individuals navigate the state’s health insurance exchange.

KCAL9’s Juan Fernandez reports new information reveals 31 out of more than 3,000 certified enrollment counselors have criminal pasts.

The information, released by Covered California, shows the past crimes range from forgery to shoplifting, burglary, robbery and welfare fraud.

Covered California spokesperson Dana Howard said Thursday most of the applicants revealed their criminal pasts during the application process and don’t pose a threat, having undergone thorough background checks and extensive training.

“These convictions happened 10, 20, 30 years ago. They do not pose a threat or a significant threat to those people who they will be doing business with,” Howard said.

Covered California confirmed enrollment counselors have access to the names, addresses, telephone numbers and social security numbers of the people they enroll.

Security expert Hemu Nigam believes that could be a problem, however, and says the state should require the disclosure of the counselors’ pasts and give applicants an opportunity to speak to someone else if they wish to do so.

“There are individuals here who are being given information that is very personal. They can locate you, that can identify you and that can destroy your future if it is misused,” he said.

Covered California is meanwhile standing firm in its hiring practices. Howard said measures are in place in the event of a breach.

“We know well who they are so that it’s not a case where if anything did happen that was inappropriate, that we would not know who did it and where to find them,” he said.

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