Rape a Pre-existing Condition to Insurance Companies?

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Well, not exactly, but pretty damn close.   And in one case, maybe so.

Here’s the story from the Huffington Post. Basically, women who are raped who need medical treatment of some form, for possible HIV-contraction or post-traumatic stress disorder, etc., can then have this used against them when they apply for health insurance later in life.   Insurance companies sometimes look at the HIV-treatment regimen they were on or PTSD treatment as a pre-existing medical condition that makes them uninsurable.

As one nurse explains in the context of treating for possible HIV contraction:

Nurses who deal with sexual assault cases say the industry’s policy creates a significant problem for those treating women who have been assaulted. “It’s difficult enough to make sure that rape victims take the drugs,” said Diana Faugno, a forensic nurse in California and board director of End Violence Against Women International. “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.”

And then there’s the case of the woman who was denied coverage of medical treatment because she was raped in the past:

A 38-year-old woman in Ithaca, N.Y., said she was raped last year and then penalized by insurers because in giving her medical history she mentioned an assault she suffered in college 17 years earlier. The woman, Kimberly Fallon, told a nurse about the previous attack and months later, her doctor’s office sent her a bill for treatment. She said she was informed by a nurse and, later, the hospital’s billing department that her health insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, not only had declined payment for the rape exam, but also would not pay for therapy or medication for trauma because she “had been raped before.”

Fallon says she now has trouble getting coverage for gynecological exams. To avoid the hassle of fighting with her insurance company, she goes to Planned Parenthood instead and pays out of pocket.

Is it any wonder that the health care and the public option appear to be picking up steam?   With stories like this one, as well as the denial of coverage for the fat baby and the thin toddler, the insurance industry is coming across as a tight-fisted group of money-hungry sadists.   Which I guess is pretty accurate….

- David S. Cohen

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