Insurance Giant Aetna Accidentally Reveals the HIV Status of Thousands of Customers
Insurance company Aetna accidentally revealed the HIV status of thousands of patients by sending out mailings in the wrong types of envelopes.
Aetna sent roughly 12,000 customers instructions for filling HIV medication prescriptions in envelopes with a large clear window — revealing the contents of the letter, the Legal Action Center and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania said Thursday.
The mailers were posted on July 28, and Aetna learned of the mistake three days later, according to another letter sent to customers. Patients who received the envelopes lived in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. The legal organizations want the insurer to show what corrective measures are being taken.
“Aetna’s privacy violation devastated people whose neighbors and family learned their intimate health information,” Sally Friedman, legal director of the Legal Action Center in New York said in a statement. “They also were shocked that their health insurer would utterly disregard their privacy rights.”
The Hartford, Conn.-based company said that “this type of mistake is unacceptable” and that the company is reviewing processes to ensure it never happens again. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called for a sit down with the insurer next week. “This is unacceptable. Discrimination against persons with HIV continues to persist,” Schneiderman wrote. “Our office is deeply concerned over Aetna’s commitment and ongoing efforts to protect patient health information.” Aetna provides health insurance coverage for the New York Daily News.
Aetna really messed this one up.