Due to the insane leak of thousands of customers private data being leaked in mailings last year the federal class-action lawsuit that was filed against the healthcare company Aetna has now reached a grand total of $17 million. Due to thousands of customers HIV statuses being revealed last year the Aetna lawsuit has been finalised at a $17 million dollar settlement.
After being filed in August late last year, the suit comes after 12,000 Aetna customers across the nation were subject to numerous data breached and received letters mailed in July that revealed their HIV status. This was not the only issue. The major failure here was the fact that their medical condition was visibly displayed through the window of each envelope, expressing their HIV medications or their PrEP and pre-exposure prophylactic that is used only to prevent HIV.
Subject to court approval, Aetna will have to agree to pay the lump sum of $17,161,200 to resolve the privacy breach issues at hand. The money will be spent sending an automatic base payment of minimum $500 to those who were affected by the large-windowed envelopes.
In addition to that 1,600 other customers will also receive a base payment of $75 as their health information was also disclosed to Aetna’s legal counsel and mail vendor allegedly. Aetna’s customers will then have the opportunity to seek additional payments for any out-of-pocket expresses or severe emotional distress damages.
Ronda Goldfein the executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania who actually filed the lawsuit along with the Legal Action Center and Berger & Montague P.C. had the following to say over the whole ordeal “In addition to the financial compensation, Aetna has created what it’s calling a ‘best practices’ document, and it’s about following appropriate protocols for sharing protected health information … with the goal of preventing this type of event from ever occurring again,” Goldfein added “This is, as far as we can tell, the largest data breach involving HIV-related privacy”.
With such a large amount of stigma and discrimination already surrounding people who suspect they have AIDS and HIV this could have potentially turned out a hell of a lot worse. The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and their co-counsel were proud to be able to finally announce the settlement last Wednesday.