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What We're Reading: HIV Privacy Breach; Googling Depression; All ACA Counties Covered


Aetna Letters Reveal Patients’ HIV Status in Envelope Window

Insurer Aetna has apologized after a mailing to 12,000 people was sent out in envelopes that inadvertently revealed that the recipient is taking a prescription for HIV, according to STAT. Legal advocacy groups say that they have heard several reports of patients’ family members finding out their HIV status through the envelope window, and that “people have been devastated.” Aetna could be forced to pay millions in fines to HHS to settle this apparent violation of health privacy laws.

Google Provides Depression Test in Response to Searches

People Googling “clinical depression” from a mobile device will now receive a short questionnaire in their search results meant to identify potential depressive symptoms. The PHQ-9 is a clinically validated screening test used by mental health professionals that includes questions about mood, energy, sleep, appetite, concentration, and more. In a Google blog post, Mary Giliberti, JD, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said that “the results of the PHQ-9 can help you have a more informed conversation with your doctor.”

Ohio Insurer to Offer ACA Coverage in Last Bare County

An insurer has stepped in to sell health plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges next year for Paulding County, Ohio, the last remaining county in the United States without coverage, NBC News reports. According to Vox, as recently as June, there had been 47 “bare” counties with no available ACA exchange plans for 2018, but governors and state officials convinced insurers to re-enter the markets. Despite CareSource’s decision meaning that there are no remaining areas where the exchanges will have zero plans, there are still 1340 counties with only 1 insurer, creating a monopoly for the 2.7 million total consumers living there.

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