Friday, October 23, 2009

Rape: A Pre-Existing Condition

Several years ago, Chris Turner was denied health insurance because she had sought treatment for rape. Health insurance agencies told Turner that the anti-AIDS medication her physician had prescribed her and the counseling she took made her uninsurable, even though she tested HIV-negative, The National Women's Law Center reports. She was told to come back in three years, if she was still HIV-free.

The Huffington Post Investigative Fund’s citizen journalism project has uncovered many similar stories, indicating that Turner's situation is not an isolated case. Women have been denied health coverage for conditions resulting from rape, such as sexually transmitted disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mental health care that their doctors said was critical for recovery. In one case, a woman received treatment for rape, but was later discovered the insurance company would not pay because they looked through her record and discovered she "had been raped before".

"Insurance discrimination against rape victims will only further discourage them from coming forward to law enforcement and seeking medical help," Sandra Park, staff attorney at the Women's Rights Project with the American Civil Liberties Union told the Huffington Post

This is what gets me," Turner said in a statement (see PDF), "There are so many rape survivors who can't or don't get the help that they need--they have to push down their suffering and pain and just try to survive. I feel like I did the right thing by going on medication and getting counseling. And yet I was punished for doing the right thing to take care of myself and my livelihood."

Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes on

No comments: