Erik Westlund, an Iowan father whose son was diagnosed with severe hemophilia, says Wellmark executive Laura Jackson should not have revealed information about an Iowa teen’s treatment costs for an unidentified genetic disorder.
The incident, Westlund writes, started when the Des Moines Register on May 12 reported one patients’s medical bills lead to a 10 percentage point spike in Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield health care exchange. Jackson said the patient’s treatment costs hit about $1 million per month.
The same news outlet on May 31 reported Jackson said the patient was a hemophiliac. Westlund said this was a mistake, and Wellmark “needs to make amends.”
“According to the CDC, about 20,000 people in the US have hemophilia,” Westlund writes. “Today there are about 320 million people in the country, of which about 3.1 million people live in Iowa. Thus, Iowa comprises roughly 1% of the US population. That means there are probably around 200 hemophiliacs in the state. How many of those are teenagers? Of those teenagers, how many have inhibitors? Of those with inhibitors, how many have a case so severe to require such high costs? Only a few. Maybe only one.”
Westlund says Jackson’s announcement not only put the teen’s privacy at risk, “it (also) is most likely an illegal violation of the HIPAA act.”