Amida Care, the New York not-for-profit community health plan, has announced that it has experienced HIPAA breach that has potentially impacted 6,231 of its subscribers due to an error in a recent mailshot.
Amida Care is renowned for providing health coverage and coordinated care to Medicaid members suffering from long term health conditions such as HIV.
Amida Care sent a flyer to some of its members who had contracted HIV on July 25 last, alerting them of an opportunity to take part in a HIV research project. The double-sided flyers included information about the HIV research project on one side, and information on an Amida Care Summer Life Celebration event on the opposite side.
The initial decision had been made taken to send out the flyer using windowless envelopes, and those instructions were given to the mailroom. However, due to an error with the envelope printer, and so as to make sure subscribers received the flyer in time, the decision was made to distribute the flyer in windowed envelopes instead.
Steps were implemented to prevent any sensitive details being seen through the clear plastic windows of the envelopes. A blank sheet of paper was inserted to the envelope along with the patient’s name and address, which could be seen through the window.
Though these steps should have stopped any information from being seen by anyone other than the recipient, Amida Care found that the words “Your HIV detects” – which were written the printed flyer – may have been seen through the paper.
Amida has taken steps to inform all subscribers who received the mailing of the potential disclosure of sensitive data, which was restricted to the afrementioned words. No other details were visible through the paper on the envelope. Amida Care has issued an apology for the mailing error and has advised patients that measures have been taken to stop similar incidents from occurring going forward.
In a similar incident in July 2017, Aetna distributed a mailing to 12,000 of its members via a third-party mailing company. Though the letters were sent in sealed envelopes, details regarding prescribed HIV medications could be seen through the plastic windows of the envelopes for some of those recipients.