Insurance Companies Are Rejecting Gay Men Because They're Using Truvada
American gay men are being denied certain types of insurance because they are taking PrEP.
The New York Times reports that a Boston urologist, who’s gay and was taking Truvada, was rejected for lifetime disability insurance. This urologist then applied with a different company and was accepted… after he stopped taking Truvada.
This seems to be a growing problem in the world of insurance as several American gay men have reported being denied life, disability, or long-term care insurance because of their drug regimen.
It seems that many insurance companies have a bias against pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, which is used to prevent acquiring HIV.
Scott Schoettes, the HIV Project Director for Lambda Legal in Chicago, spoke to CNBC, and said this problem has been around for a few years now. When PrEP became more widely used in the U.S., insurance companies became wary of it.
“It popped for them because if someone is taking Truvada, they were taking it because it is used for HIV-positive status,” Schoettes said.
While PrEP is a drug available to everyone engaged in sex, and was even recently approved for use by teens, its gay men who are being singled out by insurance companies.
While several states have laws banning health insurance discrimination based on sexual orientation, the vast difference in policy between insurance companies makes it hard to call out all companies on this act.
That said, New York and California are both investigating the situation. California’s insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, said in a statement that these denials could count as illegal discrimination under California law.
As for what victims of these policies can do, Schoettes says they should contact organizations like GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) or Lambda Legal in order to come up with a defensive strategy.
After all, “It’s a serious anti-public-health problem,” says Schoettes.
“People should step forward and raise their voices,” Schoettes said. “The insurers think they are getting at some kind of risk factor that they should be able to take into account, but they are not. They are punishing people who are actually reducing their risk.”