View Full Version : Domestic Violence A Pre-existing Condition?

Gayle in MD
10-16-2009, 11:00 AM

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">By Maria Tchijov
Insurance 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.


<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney expressed outrage today that the state of Mississippi is one of eight states in the nation, including the District of Columbia, which allows insurance companies to consider domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition with which to deny health-care coverage. The National Women's Law Center reported in April that the state of Arkansas passed a law prohibiting insurance companies to pull coverage for domestic violence survivors, putting a spotlight on the remaining states.

"The truth is we've got eight states in the union that count domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition, and Mississippi is one of them," Chaney told the Jackson Free Press. "I've got to get some of my lawyers to do some research on this, but we have only six mandated (conditions that must be covered) in our state statues, and we have 25 or more optional coverages, but domestic abuse doesn't seem to be one of them."

Chaney said all insurance companies in the state can take advantage of the state's limited coverage mandate, and that he would prefer the state to change its law to force insurance companies to cover victims of domestic abuse.

"Would I do something about it? Hell, yeah, I'd do something about it, but I'm a regulator, not a legislator. I have to come to terms with that every week," Chaney said. "The whole situation is bad. Let's say a woman works with a company that had Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and she gets beat up in her house and Blue Cross says 'we're not covering you because getting beat up is your pre-existing condition.' That's terrible."

Chaney explained that the law has to be changed at the Legislature: "They would have to change the statute to say that spousal abuse is a mandated coverage. We've done it before when we added coverage for mammograms and some other things."

Sen. Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, served as chair of the Senate's Insurance Committee before moving to the Finance Committee, where he has served as chairman for two years. Kirby said the state law on the issue surprised him.

"I didn't even know we allowed for them to deny coverage due to domestic abuse," Kirby said. "I wonder how long that's been on the books, because I certainly didn't pass it, and I've been on the committee for 12 years," Kirby said. "I would think that the chairman of the insurance committees in the House and Senate would consider seriously changing that law."

Senate Insurance Chairman Eugene Clarke, R-Hollandale, and House Insurance Chairman Walker Robinson, D-Bolton, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kirby, who is a property and casualty insurance agent, said he did not think a state law change would impact insurance companies significantly.

"I can't see it making a lot of difference in the premium, and I think the legislature should really consider changing it," Kirby said. "I can't imagine there being so much domestic abuse that they would consider exempting it. I think the companies are probably paying for it and don't even realize that it qualifies as a pre-existing condition."


http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.ph...issippi_091609/ (http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/domestic_abuse_is_a_pre_existing_condition_in_miss issippi_091609/)

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">After the Huffington Post reported that eight states still allow insurance companies to treat domestic violence as a precondition, leaders from three of those declared that they would put an end to the practice.
<span style='font-size: 17pt'>
North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr took a different approach and instead challenged the head of the organization, the National Women's Law Center, that issued the original report at a Senate hearing Thursday. Burr's reaction was the polar opposite of Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who told the Jackson Free Press after the story broke that he was ashamed that his state was on the list. </span>

Mike Chaney:

"Would I do something about it? Hell, yeah, I'd do something about it, but I'm a regulator, not a legislator. I have to come to terms with that every week," he said, calling on the legislature to take action.

North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm, a former violent-crimes prosecutor, told the Huffington Post that he and Gov. John Hoeven (R) are working to change the standing policy in their state. "Quite frankly, I was stunned and I couldn't believe it," he said of North Dakota's inclusion on the list, vowing to change the law when the legislature comes back in session.

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin similarly said that he would encourage the state legislature to clarify the law. The state does ban insurers from using domestic violence as a pre-existing condition within group plans, but is silent when it comes to individual and non-group plans. Following the story, Goodwin said that he would implement new rules and encourage the legislature to rectify the situation so that individual and non-group women were specifically protected, too. He also said that he had not found an example of any insurance company denying a woman coverage and citing domestic violence as the reason.

Advocates for survivors and victims of domestic abuse note that it's more complicated than that: insurers rarely specifically cite "domestic violence" as the reason to deny coverage, but instead cite the physical manifestations of it.

It was a distinction lost on Burr, who seized on Goodwin's statement that the commissioner didn't know of a case of insurance companies using domestic violence as a reason to deny coverage. On Thursday, when the group's founder and co-president, Marcia Greenberger, came to testify before the full Senate health committee, Burr used the bulk of his allotted time to question the accuracy of her report.

Read more or View Slip From Yesterday's Senate hearings at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/16/sensitivity-training-gop_n_323714.html </div></div>
Video Clip From N.C. Senator, Yesterday...or
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/16/sensitivity-training-gop_n_323714.html