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Aetna Lawsuit Settlement

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Aetna Agrees to pay $17 million for Mishandling Sensitive Data

Our complaints against giant corporations aren’t always related to bad drugs or defective medical devices. Sometimes we complain that giant corporations are just plain sloppy. For example, we learned that Aetna has agreed to pay $17 million and implement new "best practices" for handling policyholders' sensitive data to resolve a consolidated class action that accused the company of negligently exposing HIV-related information through window envelopes that were mailed to roughly 12,000 people.

The settlement stems from a mailing telling Aetna policyholders who take HIV medications and an HIV preventative regimen how to fill their prescriptions. The letters were sent in envelopes with large clear plastic windows on the front. Names, addresses, claim numbers and instructions related to the HIV medication were visible.

Policyholders sued for emotional distress as a result of “Aetna's failure to properly secure and keep private their confidential HIV-related information”. The company agreed to pay $17,161,200 to settle the claims. They’ve also agreed to implement “measures designed to ensure something like this does not happen again as part of our commitment to best practices in protecting sensitive health information."

The amount of money each class member will get will depend on damages.

While mistakes can happen, it seems to us that safeguarding incredibly private information about members who may have HIV is an area where mistakes are not made. It is precisely because large corporations continue to make ‘mistakes’ like this one, and many others, that we at do what we do.

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