Last week, the Huffington Post made our blood boil when they reported on a horrifying trend—that insurance companies are denying benefits for women who’ve been raped, and even dropping their coverage altogether. How can they get away with such a thing? Because, when a woman is raped and it’s unknown whether the assailant used a condom, doctors typically prescribe a month’s worth of an anti-HIV medication (which, uh, I didn’t even know existed) as a precaution. It’s extremely rare that a woman actually contracts HIV this way, but insurance companies view this as a morbid done deal. Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for the health insurance industry’s largest trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, explains, “If you put down on a form that you are or were taking anti-HIV drugs at any time, [insurance companies] are going to understand that you are or were in treatment for HIV, period. That could be a factor in determining whether you get coverage.”This is exactly what happened to Christina Turner, who ironically was a health insurance agent for 12 years. Even with her extensive knowledge of the system, her insurance company dropped her after she was raped. Turner first appeared in the Huffington Post story and Anderson Cooper interviewed her last night. Here is her story in a nutshell.
Christina was at a bar in Florida in 2002 when a pair of men offered to buy her a drink. Next thing she knew, she woke up on the side of the road and it was pretty clear she’d been drugged and raped. Her doc prescribed anti-HIV medication, which cost $1000 a month, and she put in for reimbursement. Her insurance company then dropped her—claiming that she hadn’t paid her latest bill, even though she says she can prove that payment was sent. The company wouldn’t cover her again because, in their minds, she had a pre-existing condition—HIV. They said she would have to show them 2 to 3 years worth of HIV-negative tests before she could get coverage again. Meanwhile, she had to pay for the medication and for the extensive counseling she needed to so much as be able to leave her house, out of pocket.
Evidently, this is not unusual. “It’s difficult enough to make sure that rape victims take the drugs,” said Diana Faugno, a forensic nurse in California. “What are we supposed to tell women now? Well, I guess you have a choice—you can risk your health insurance or you can risk AIDS. Go ahead and choose.”
The Huffington Post also uncovered equally grim stories, like one about a 38-year-old woman in New York who was raped in college. Seventeen years later, it happened again, and when she went to the hospital seeking treatment, she was informed that her insurance company would not cover the cost of the rape exam, medication, or therapy because she had been “raped before.” As if it were like catching the flu. Similarly, if you suffer post-traumatic stress disorder after a sexual assault, too bad—many companies consider this a pre-existing condition, too.
Pure. Evil. [Huffington Post]