Insurance denial case involving gay men in New York to be investigated by state

HIV insurance denial discrimination

State financial regulators will be looking into reports of discrimination against homosexual men.

New York financial regulators are looking into recent reports of insurance denial involving gay men. The story originated in the New York Times and stated that gay men were being denied long-term care, disability and life insurance because of a preventative medication they were taking.

The men were taking a medication to help boost their protection against H.I.V. when they applied for coverage.

If the insurance denial allegations are true, it may mean that the insurers’ practices involved illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to Maria T. Vullo, the New York superintendant of financial services, the insurance companies may be penalized for those practices. Vullo confirmed that the new York Times article triggered the investigation, having brought the situation to their attention.

The Times article stated that a number of insurance companies across the country had been denying policies to gay men who were found to be taking Truvada. That medication is a combination of two anti-AIDS drugs that help to boost protection against contracting H.I.V. from sex.

The report suggested that insurance denial was commonplace enough to drive some men to stop taking Truvada.

Some men reportedly stopped taking the protective medication in order to become eligible to purchase the insurance policies.

The practice of taking these medications, known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis” or PrEP, is a recommended and accepted prevention strategy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends PrEP. Reputable studies have demonstrated that people who take PrEP medication every day reduce their risk of H.I.V. infection to nearly zero. This is the case even if they either have many unprotected sexual partners or they are in a long-term relationship with a partner who is infected with H.I.V.

AIDS experts have called the insurance denials practice discriminatory. At the same time, they have stated that, when considering the fact that these men are effectively protecting themselves, denying them coverage for something that will reduce their risk of infection doesn’t make any sense.

“This is tantamount to penalizing applicants based on sexual orientation,” said Vullo. “Insurers cannot choose to deny coverage based on discriminatory reasons.”

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