Mutual of Omaha, a large insurance company headquartered in Nebraska, has settled a lawsuit brought by the Massachusetts attorney general that alleged discrimination by the company for denying insurance coverage to individuals who take medication to prevent HIV. In addition, a separate lawsuit brought by an unidentified man from Massachusetts was also settled by the insurer. The plaintiff alleged he had been denied coverage for long-term care insurance as a result of his admission that he took Truvada, a drug to prevent HIV infection.
Verdict & Settlement
The attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, released a prepared statement saying, “Consumers looking to protect themselves from HIV transmission should not be excluded from buying insurance.” The insurance company was not required to admit wrongdoing in the settlement and must pay $25,000 to the state.
Discrimination complaints that were lodged against Mutual of Omaha were mostly by gay men who said they had been denied coverage for long-term care, disability or life insurance. The parties alleged the denials were based solely upon the fact that they were using Truvada to help protect themselves from HIV, a practice known as PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis.
Truvada with TDF
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who are at risk for infection with HIV should take Truvada on a daily basis. Per studies, the drug has been shown to be extremely effective at blocking the virus, and insurance companies almost always cover the medication’s costs.
In a move that endangered them, some gay men admittedly stopped the drug in order to qualify for insurance. The New York Times reported on the insurance denials last year, then New York regulators started investigations in the state to see if insurers there were engaging in similar practices.
Denial of Insurance Coverage
The settlement that Mutual of Omaha made with the attorney general of Massachusetts only applies within that state. However, the insurer has now changed its practice of evaluation nationwide, according to Andy Halpern, a spokesperson for the company.
Bennett Klein is a lawyer at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders in Boston who represented the Massachusetts man denied insurance coverage for long-term care. The attorney successfully decried the insurer’s denial of more than a dozen individuals by purporting that the rejections were based on the use of a drug by healthy people instead of medical status. Mr. Klein put forth that the company’s policy led to discrimination based on sexual orientation because 80 percent of individuals taking Truvada are gay males.
Speaking further about the gay men who were denied insurance coverage, Mr. Klein noted that Mutual of Omaha “regarded them as disabled, the same way as they would exclude a person who has HIV” He continued, “But they don’t otherwise assess HIV risk. They don’t ask if you engage in unsafe practices or do you use a condom.” To the insurer’s evaluators, however, the fact that an individual was on PrEP meant the person was by definition at high risk for infection. According to the HIV project director for Lambda Legal, Scott Schoettes, “Now we need the rest of the insurance industry to fall in line and realize that if they don’t, they will face legal actions against them.”
Connecting Your Law Firm with Truvada Leads
Plaintiffs who have taken Truvada with TDF will need a personal injury lawyer to help them file a Truvada lawsuit. Broughton Partners can help your law firm receive a steady flow of qualified retainers that have been reviewed and questioned. Our team only qualifies Truvada with TDF plaintiffs and not TAF medication plaintiffs.
If you are interested in receiving Truvada lawsuit leads contact Broughton Partners today and learn about our innovative plaintiff acquisition process.
- Gina Kolata. “Facing Legal Action, Insurer Now Will Cover People Taking Truvada, an H.I.V.-Prevention Drug”, The New York Times,. Accessed August 10, 2019.