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Rape Victim Denied Healthcare For Taking Anti-AIDS Drug

I'll admit that I didn't know anything about the anti-AIDS medication given to rape victims until someone I know had to take it. The preventative drug cocktail, which must be started within 72 hours of exposure and taken over 28 days, is given as emergency treatment to people who might have been exposed to the HIV virus, often victims of rape.

Thanks to the debate raging over healthcare reform, it has come out that health insurance companies deny patients health insurance because they took the medication. At least that's what happened to Christina Turner. After being drugged by two strangers, Christina had physical injuries indicating that she had probably been sexually assaulted. Her doctor prescribed her the anti-AIDS medication, but she soon found out that taking it made her uninsurable. When she lost her coverage for an unrelated reason, Christina went out to purchase a new policy. Insurance companies examined her health records and found the anti-AIDS prescription. They told her that it raised too many health questions, and that she might be able to come back for coverage in a few years if she could prove she was AIDS free. They didn't seem to care that Christina had never contracted HIV.

It horrifies me that a woman who has been a victim of sexual assault can have that tragic experience held against her by health insurance companies. And I also can't help but think of what Christina's story means for people who are actually HIV positive. If Christina was penalized for merely taking this medication, it surely must be harder to get coverage if you are already living with the disease. What is your reaction to all of this?

Image Source: Getty
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SaucySassy SaucySassy 7 years
Vsugar, wish I could write/state my opinions as well as you. Wow! Brava.
Vsugar Vsugar 7 years
You are wrong. Rationing is something that people are understandably afraid of, but all this talk about death panels and the kind of heavy handed rationing that would lead to the scenario you are talking about is just not the reality of what a public health care system would look like in America. People frequently point to Canada as an example of how care gets rationed. Let me put it to you this way: Canada currently spends %9 of it's GDP on healthcare. America currently spends %17. If we spent, say %12, we would be spending less than we are now, but would have a better funded system than Canada currently has (which most, not ALL, but MOST Canadians are happy with, and fiercely protective of). If you compare that to the current system, where claims adjustors of health insurance companies get paid bonuses for denying you care, I don't know about you, but I would rather deal with a system that is funded by, and thus accountable to, We The People. It's an important and well documented point, so let me say it again: CLAIMS ADJUSTORS AT HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES GET PAID BONUSES FOR DENYING CLAIMS. Does this sound like good use of your healthcare dollars? And my comments on illegal immigration were brief and non-specific. But for the record, I think we should have a much less permissive immigration system. Despite that, I think that vilifying illegal immigrants is nothing more than veiled racism. The overwhelming majority of them are incredibly hard working people coming from desperate situations, and are trying to simply make a better life for themselves and their families. Most of them pay taxes but are not entitled to any of the protections or benefits that come with citizenship. I think that the days of immediate citizenship for all people born here should come to an end - if your parents are here illegally, and you are born here, you shouldn't just get citizenship - you should be required to be born of parents of legal status. But I DO think that blaming the hard-working, underpaid, and unprotected illegal immigrants in this country for all of our nation's ills is getting old, fast, and just another face for racism.
PhillyEagles1 PhillyEagles1 7 years
I also have to say, if the government controls the healthcare system they in turn choose who can see the doctors, correct? So when I am 60 y.o. with cancer, the government will choose a 25 y.o. to get treatment before me. Please correct me if I am wrong?
PhillyEagles1 PhillyEagles1 7 years
I have to agree with Vsugar with the illegal immigrants. We need to crack down on that. Secondly, I believe UHC is NOT the right way to go.. but in agreement with SPACE that a public option would compete with private insurance companies and also help those who cannot afford private insurance and need help. I hate the whole repubs vs dems. Let's look at the big picture and do what is right for everyone. This is not as easy as let's do universal healthcare and all will be great. There are problems with EVERY system.
Vsugar Vsugar 7 years
I would like to point out that CaterpillarGirl represents herself as a medical professional by saying that she "takes care of special needs children". She doesn't. She is a secretary. There's nothing wrong with being a secretary, but to suggest that your view on the healthcare debate has some weight other than the average person's view is pretty low and dishonest in my opinion. And additionally, healthcare SHOULD be a right. Just because YOU and similar selfish people who seem to think the government is our enemy and has no place in providing for promoting "the general welfare for ourselves and our prosperity" (see the US Constitution), doesn't mean that there aren't a great number of us who believe that We The People ARE the government and that we have a right and a responsibility to provide a decent living standard for ourselves and our fellow citizens. The wait time in Germany, which has a not-for profit healthcare system, is virtually the same as in the US. I had private, GOOD health insurance here in the US and had to schedule a hip surgery 5 months in advance, so your assertion of wait times is not accurate. The only false view of how the US healthcare system ranks worldwide is, apparently, YOURS. Did you know that the US has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in THE WORLD?!?!??!??? I don't even understand your comment about Medicare. I am uninterested in hearing about how expensive this is supposedly going to be when the health insurance industry currently takes %20 off the top in profits, %24 of the rest of healthcare costs are spent on administrative costs, and we recently gave $2 Trillion in tax cuts to the very rich. GEORGE BUSH Bankrupted this country, NOT the progressives - let's not rewrite history, shall we??? And lastly, you are right - no universal healthcare system is perfect. But at least it is not a system where the rich have better access to better care than the poor. That's not how things are supposed to be in America. Not everyone needs to drive a mercedes and wear Chanel. But EVERYONE should be able to go to the doctor when they are sick. PERIOD. You may not believe that healthcare should be a human right. Well, I think you are wrong, and I think you should be ashamed of yourself. And lastly, I especially enjoy your final comment here about the various evils of illegal immigrants. I thank you for revealing your true character. Why don't you, Lou Dobbs, and Rush Limbaugh go have a pity party and leave the rest of us alone....
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
anonymous, if mexicos healthcare is so stellar, how come illegal immigrants have BANKRUPTED alot of californias hospitals causing american citizens to be without healthcare and facilities to recieve healthcare, not to mention the loss of jobs.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
UM. Bela, didnt know I had to state my reasons but here goes. 1) healthcare isnt a right, and its not up to the government to provide healthcare 2) the wait time for doctors, speciality clinics, etc would be way too long for me to consider waiting. I can right now call up my providers, SELF refer and Boom, I am in there tommorow if needed. 3)The data given by people who ranked our healthcare system is wrong and biased and gives a false view of how the US ranks in healthcare. 4) Medicare under the universal healthcare mandate would be out of control, no one has told us what the spend down would be, how they would regulate it. 5)unequal access and problems STILL exist in universal healthcare today. IT wouldnt solve anything, I agree that the healthcare industry needs and overhaul...but again....UNIVERSAL healthcare isnt the answer.
prencesschris prencesschris 7 years
this is crazy & horrible :(
Amigone Amigone 7 years
I am a single mama. I wasn't feeling well and ended up in the ER last week. I thought I was having a bad reaction to a flu shot. Turns out I needed my gallbladder removed. I do not have insurance. I'm hoping I qualify for state insurance and they'll cover this debt. Because I know I can't afford to pay this giant bill. But I couldn't work and take care of my kids if I didn't have it done. Having SOME health insurance would have been better than none at all. If the people who are against universal health can please explain why they are so against, I would like to know. Because even if it would have been a hassle to all the paperwork together for this I would rather have had insurance.
belavrana belavrana 7 years
Um, I think part of the problem, CG, is that you have not given any reason you are against Universal healthcare except that it will not "magically solve our problems". I think any person with sense knows nothing will do that. So, do you have a real reason to oppose it? Is it a "big government" issue for you or what?
Akasha Akasha 7 years
Vsugar: Thanks for the advise. I have talked to everyone including the one of the owners of the company that owns the hospital. That's when they knocked the original bill down $200,000. They have also agreed to knock down the bill if I can pay the amount that we agree to in full some where around $100G's. I was able to deal directly with my doctors and have managed to get most of them paid off. I thought paying the people was more important than paying the corporation since they were the ones that actually kept me alive. After a almost a year of paying the hospital they turned it over to collections and they too want a lump sum payment. The hospital no longer takes my calls. It's been only recently that we have gotten an attorney involved and his advise is to separate all assets that I share with the family and file for bankruptcy. Personally I don't blame the hospital I blame my insurance company as this is something that should have been covered. Unfortunately I don't have the kind of money needed to sue them as this isn't one of those cases where the attorney would get a cut of a settlement to pay them off. I had never considered calling my Congressional Rep, but I will definitely look into that on Monday morning.
Vsugar Vsugar 7 years
And Akasha - the sad reality is that $297 a month is virtually nothing when it comes to health insurance. I'm so sorry to hear that you had to go through such a terrible ordeal. The good news is that you are well now - the bad news is that the stress takes a serious toll on your overall health. I have been in similar dire circumstances - I had nowhere near the size of the bill that you did, but once had an $80,000 bill (for lung surgery) and once had a $60,000 bill (for a car accident), and I can tell you that you should aggressively pursue settling the bill with them. It MIGHT even be worth consulting with a lawyer - sometimes personal injury lawyers negotiate settlements on bills with their clients, and it's POSSIBLE that you may be able to find one willing to work to try to negotiate a lower fee from the hospital for an agreed upon fee (don't pay anyone anything until they have actually accomplished something with the hospital and you have it in writing). I know a lawyer who once negotiated a bill from $310,000 down to $35,000. You should also contact your local Congressional Rep's office, and tell them you need help. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that you should be paying interest on this bill. I would start by contacting the hospital - try to speak with someone in charge - go as high up as you possibly can, and simply say, "I would really like to pay this bill. I have no interest in avoiding or dumping this bill - but the interest is making it impossible for me to do it, so I would like to know what arrangement we can come to that will help us both make sure this bill gets paid."
Akasha Akasha 7 years
PS All of this was after spending $297 per month for health insurance for over 6 years, and barely ever using it, and I am also not eligible for health insurance ever again, unless I get a group policy, but as a freelance employee that isn't likely to happen.
Akasha Akasha 7 years
In my early 20's I was in a horrific car accident and had to spend time in the hospital, during my stay they found that I had a huge tumor in my spinal column and that was the reason for the pain I had been experiencing for years. The insurance company covered the measures that were taken from the car accident, but informed my family that due to the fact that the removal of the tumor was elective surgery and I didn't get permission first that they would only cover 20% of the fees. It's not like I decided to have a boob or nose job while I was there. The doctors even helped me with the appeal stating that if the thing had gotten any larger I might have lost the use of my legs or because the tumor was so large that it was pressing against my stomach I would have ended up starving to death within the next year. Because the surgery was so delicate and required so many doctors and then a prolonged hospital stay I now owe the hospital $540,000, which was still about 40% of the original bill ,the insurance company paid 20% and the hospital took off 20%. For the rest of my life I will be paying off this bill, and because I can't afford to pay as much as they want every month ($2000) it has ruined my credit and unless I win the lottery and I can pay the thing off in one lump sum it will be ruined forever. While I got lucky with the car accident, there were days, at the beginning where I thought it would be easier on my mom if I hadn't made it. Luckily once the mass amounts of medication they had me wore off I could think with a clearer head. It's terrible to have to deal with being sick and at the same time wonder if your parents or your family is going to lose their home in order to pay for the bills. We also have had to figure out how to not lose the family home when my mom passes away, because once I inherit it the hospital collection agency will go after it, and even that won't be enough as there is 29.9% interest accruing on the bill. So, yes I pretty much hope that these people will get knocked off their high horses with some sort of insurance reform, and/or a national health care that will finally take some of the money out of their greedy pockets.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
UHC scares me a bit, but almost anything's gotta be better than what we have now. My fiance doesn't have health insurance. What if something horrible happened? He says his family would help, but they don't have that kind of money. I'll be putting him on my plan in a couple of months, but my insurance is pretty bad. $45 a month for a $2400 deductible. Meh.
Vsugar Vsugar 7 years
These arguments about UHC limiting care for people are so ridiculous, because people in America, who pay through the nose for private insurance are ALSO being denied care - if you decide to go around your current health insurance and pay out of pocket for a procedure or medication they are denying, you can go ahead and do that - IF you can afford it - but most people can't, and so they don't get the care that they need, even when they are spending many thousands of dollars a year on health insurance. If there is an equitable system that rations coverage because of doctor shortages or funding difficulties, this is not morally corrupt like a system that denies care and rations treatment in just the same way, except in order to maximize profits for a very few. Ellonwy has it right, and the rest of us should be ashamed that America is so far behind our fellow industrialized nations. CG - what is your JOB? You say you take care of special needs children? Are you a nurse? Are you an occupational therapist? I am not calling you a liar, it's just that you say you work in the 'healthcare industry", and I'm sorry, but people who work at insurance companies (spending their days denying people coverage) say they work in the "healthcare industry".
obamamama obamamama 7 years
There are also stories of women that are victims of domestic violence being denied coverage because the insurance companies say they have "pre-existing" conditions. Great, huh? Someone, anyone, needs to explain to me what purpose these insurance companies serve! And we've all heard the recent story about Sen Franken's bill regarding rape victims being able to sue (Halliburton in Iraq) and the 30 Repugs who voted against it. Rachel Maddow has invited all 30 of them to come on her show to explain their vote and NONE have agreed. F*cking women-hating cowards, all.
tvjunkie45 tvjunkie45 7 years
Seriously, ms jamerz, you think that Canadian health care is great. Have you ever been sick and had to wait for MRI's or tests, or surgery's or anything but a regular doctor's visit. UHC is theoretically a great idea but for a population a tenth of the size of the US it doesn't work the way it's set out to work. And Canada has had UHC for decades and as the population has grown and aged it's only gotten worse, so how with it work anytime soon in the US if it was implemented. Yes there needs to be a overhaul to health care, especially the way that some insurance companies work, but UHC for all is by no means the answer, it would just lead to more problems. And this case, well this woman should not have been denied Health care, this is a sad case.
ms-jamerz ms-jamerz 7 years
Well said Eilonwy!! If this is true it is absolutely digusting. I'm a canadian and I seriously just don't understand why so many americans are against universal healthcare. If only it were simple enough for the president to say "Whoever wants universal healthcare sign up here, all those who would rather stay either uninsured or with their current insurance companies who may or may not abandon you in a time of need sign up here." Problem solved! lol
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