Insurer Settles Lawsuit For $17 Million For Accidentally Outing HIV Patients

Insurer Settles Lawsuit For $17 Million For Accidentally Outing HIV Patients

 Insurer Settles Lawsuit For $17 Million For Accidentally Outing HIV Patients

Aetna has agreed to pay $17 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit after the health insurance company mailed out envelopes that accidentally revealed thousands of patients’ HIV status.

The settlement, announced Wednesday, concerns a mass mailing that Aetna sent to patients in the summer of 2017. The lawsuit alleged that Aetna committed a privacy breach by giving its law firm and a mail vendor the names and confidential health information of 13,487 customers who’d been prescribed HIV medications. (By settling, Aetna is not admitting to wrongdoing.)

Nearly 12,000 of those people then received large-windowed envelopes that, even when unopened, showed that they were prescribed HIV medications, according to the lawsuit. These patients are entitled to receive at least $500 each under the settlement.

An additional 1,600 or so patients did not have their HIV status revealed in the mail, but Aetna still improperly shared their names, the lawsuit alleged. That group of people stands to receive $75 each under the settlement.

The breach affected patients who were both taking treatments for HIV and medication to prevent it, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in August in US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In some cases, the mass mailing caused patients to be kicked out of their homes or damaged their relationships with friends, relatives, and neighbors, the plaintiffs alleged.

The settlement “sends a really strong message to people living with or at risk of HIV that their privacy is valued and those who violate privacy laws will pay a steep price,” Sally Friedman, an attorney at the Legal Action Center, one of the groups behind the lawsuit, told BuzzFeed News.

Overall, the lawsuit’s plaintiffs spanned 27 states and Washington, DC.

The lead plaintiff — an anonymous man taking the HIV prevention medication known as PrEP — said in a press release, “HIV still has a negative stigma associated with it, and I am pleased that this encouraging agreement with Aetna shows that HIV-related information warrants special care.”

The lawsuit alleged that Aetna violated both the federal patient privacy law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and several state laws explicitly designed to protect the privacy of HIV patients.

In a statement, an Aetna spokesperson said that the company was taking steps to prevent future privacy breaches.

“Through our outreach efforts, immediate relief program, and this settlement we have worked to address the potential impact to members following this unfortunate incident,” the spokesperson said. “In addition, we are implementing measures designed to ensure something like this does not happen again as part of our commitment to best practices in protecting sensitive health information.”


Love and Share!

You Should See This:

People Love This Photo Of Doug Jones' Gay Son Looking On As Mike Pence Swears His Dad In
19 Things You'll Understand If You Just Really Fucking Love Costco
How Do You Rebuild Your Life After Leaving A Polygamous Sect?
How To Turn Off Instagram's New Active Status Feature
18 Photos That Will Make You Lose Your Faith In Mankind
This Is Nothing New, But Here's 23 Times Jake Gyllenhaal Was A Goddamn Treasure Of A Human ...
How Many '00s Beauty Crimes Have You Committed?
Donald Trump, MeToo, Facebook, And The Breakdown Of Institutional Power
Multiple People Have Reportedly Been Injured In Florida School Shooting
Prosecutors Say These Two Russian Troll Accounts Messed With The 2016 Election. Here Are 50 Of Their...
See How Popular Your 2018 Oscars Predictions Are
Which Iconic French Food Matches Your Soul?
Everyone Has An Emo Song That Matches Their Personality — Which One Is Yours?
A 17-Year-Old Was Killed When A Package Exploded In His Austin Kitchen. Police Are Linking It To Ano...
Build A Prom Outfit And We'll Reveal Your Soulmate's First Initial
This 11-Year-Old Gave An Impassioned Speech For "African-American Girls Whose Stories Don't Mak...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *