HIV Status of Subscribers May Have Been Revealed by Amida Care

Amida Care, the New York-based not-for-profit community health plan, advised that a possible HIPAA breach may have occurred impacting up to 6,231 of its subscribers.

The group provides health coverage and coordinated care to Medicaid subscribers with chronic health conditions such as HIV.

On July 25, 2017, Amida Care released a information flyer to some of its members who are suffering from HIV, advising them of an chance to take part in a HIV research project. The double-sided flyers included details of the HIV research project on one side and information regarding an upcoming Amida Care Summer Life Celebration event on the other side.

The decision had first been made to release out the information flyer using windowless envelopes, and those instructions were provided to the mailroom. However, due to an error with the envelope printer and in order to make sure subscribers received the flyer in time, the decision was taken to release the flyer using windowed envelopes.

Measures was taken to stop any sensitive data being seen through the clear plastic windows of the envelopes. However, a blank sheet of paper was placed inside with the patient’s name and address, which could be seen visible through the plastic window.

However, while that should have stopped any information from being seem from anyone other that the intended recipient, Amida Care found that the wording “Your HIV detecta” – which were on the printed information flyer – may have been seen through the paper.

Amida has made contact with all patients who received the mailing to advise them of the possible disclosure of sensitive data, which was restricted to just the above words. No other information could be seen through the paper.  Amida Care has apologised for the mistake and has advised patients measures have been put in place to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

This breah is he second of its kind to have been discovered recently. In July, Aetna broadcast a mailing to 12,000 of its members via a third party communications partner. While the letters were broadcast using sealed envelopes, details about prescribed HIV medications and treatments could be clearly seen through the plastic windows of the envelopes for some of those patients that the correspondence was sent to.