Analysis

Aetna's HIV Lapse Shows Snail Mail's Privacy Pitfalls

By Jeff Overley (August 25, 2017, 9:02 PM EDT) -- Letters to Aetna Inc. policyholders that publicly divulged information about HIV medications represented a clear breakdown of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act controls and are a reminder of snail mail's distinct privacy risks, attorneys say.

The letters, which were revealed on Thursday, went to 12,000 Aetna customers. The letters used window envelopes that exposed policyholder names and, in at least some cases, information about prescriptions for HIV drugs. Aetna swiftly apologized and called the matter "unacceptable."

Aetna allegedly sent letters to some policyholders that revealed they were getting HIV medication in the envelope's clear window, which policyholders claim is in...

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