5:03 PM Eastern - Friday, September 11, 2009

Domestic violence is a "pre-existing condition"?

20090911feature-denied-1.jpgInsurance companies have used the excuse of "pre-existing conditions" to deny coverage to countless Americans. From cancer patients to the elderly suffering from arthritis, these organizations have padded their profit margins by limiting coverage to patients deemed "high risk" because of their medical condition.

But, in DC and eight other states, including Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming, insurance companies have gone too far, claiming that "domestic violence victim" is also a pre-existing condition.

Words cannot describe the sheer inhumanity of this claim. It serves as yet further proof that our insurance system is broken, destroyed by the profit-mongering of the very companies whose sole purpose should be to provide Americans with access to care when they need it most. In 1994, an informal survey conducted by the Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee revealed that 8 of the 16 largest insurers in the country used domestic violence as a factor when deciding whether to extend coverage and how much to charge if coverage was extended.

It is clear that insurance companies refuse to police themselves. It's up to us to call on Congress to take action now to pass health care reform and end discrimination against patients with pre-existing conditions.

* Read more about victims of domestic violence being denied coverage because of their "pre-existing condition" here and here.


UPDATE: The National Women's Law Center has just confirmed that in April, Arkansas actually passed a law prohibiting insurance discrimination against domestic violence survivors. While this is great news, we need to keep up the fight until we pass health insurance reform and wipe out discrimination against patients with pre-existing conditions" once and for all.

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