Aetna sues 2 firms for alleged $20M HIV privacy breach

Aetna filed a lawsuit against two firms representing members who allegedly had their HIV status potentially revealed through transparent envelope windows, according to an analysis published by Reuters.

In mid-2017, the insurer allegedly exposed members' HIV statuses through a window on envelopes containing information about filling prescriptions for HIV medications and pre-exposure prophylaxis, a pill that helps prevent a person from contracting HIV. The letters were mailed July 28, 2017, to about 12,000 customers in multiple states. The insurer later agreed to a $17.2 million settlement to potentially affected clients and a $1.15 million fine to the New York Attorney General.

On May 23, Aetna filed a complaint in Philadelphia federal court against Whatley Kallas and Consumer Watchdog, two groups that represented Aetna members in cases leading up to the alleged privacy breach. The new lawsuit accuses Whatley Kallas and Consumer Watchdog of requiring Aetna to supply confidential information about its clients to administrative support company Kurtzman Carson Consultants, which mailed the letters, according to the analysis in Reuters.

Aetna argues Whatley Kallas and Consumer Watchdog failed to ensure confidential information relating to a previous settlement notice wouldn't be exposed.

In February, Aetna also filed a lawsuit against Kurtzman Carson Consultants blaming the company for potentially revealing members' HIV status through mail using clear envelope windows. The case is ongoing

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