There are some things that I can’t describe; so upsetting no words can convey how I feel. Now is one of those times. A story on Huffingtonpost.com highlights the practice of insurance companies that deny coverage for rape victims who are prescribed anti-HIV medication to prevent contracting the disease. According to the health insurance provider, using anti-HIV medication indicates an unhealthy patient, a patient with too many health risks, a patient with a risk laden lifestyle. Even after the assault was documented within the appeal process, the insurance company still felt the patient was too risky, and she was denied. Now with a documented appeal and subsequent denial, for lack of better words, this woman is totally fucked.
Turner had let the men buy her drinks at a bar in Fort Lauderdale. The next thing she knew, she said, she was lying on a roadside with cuts and bruises that indicated she had been raped. She never developed an HIV infection. But months later, when she lost her health insurance and sought new coverage, she ran into a problem.
Turner, 45, who used to be a health insurance underwriter herself, said the insurance companies examined her health records. Even after she explained the assault, the insurers would not sell her a policy because the HIV medication raised too many health questions. They told her they might reconsider in three or more years if she could prove that she was still AIDS-free.
This is not unusual. Indeed, rape is an acceptable pre-existing condition in many states. Because insurers are not required, anywhere, to disclose how often they deny or rescind coverage for enrollees or for what reason, it is only personal stories that document how often this may happen. But really, if one woman is denied, because she was raped, it is sick. Now consider millions of women who are denied because they have a history of post traumatic stress disorder, caused by rape or assault. Or the hundreds of thousands of young girls who are raped or abused and contract sexually transmitted illnesses, they are branded with the “pre existing condition”- for life.
Stories of how victims of sexual assault can get tangled in the health insurance system have been one result of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund's citizen journalism project, which is calling on readers to provide information and anecdotes about the inner workings of the insurance industry. The project aims to uncover details and data that can inform the larger debate over how to fix the nation's health care system. As the Investigative Fund reported in September, health insurance companies are not required to make public their records on how often claims are denied and for what reasons.
Some women have contacted the Investigative Fund to say they were deemed ineligible for health insurance because they had a pre-existing condition as a result of a rape, such as post traumatic stress disorder or a sexually transmitted disease. Other patients and therapists wrote in with allegations that insurers are routinely denying long-term mental health care to women who have been sexually assaulted.
This issue is beyond being deemed a "social wedge issue", away from just “women’s health”, apart from feminism.
This is a human rights epidemic.