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New Employer and Insurance - HIV Positive
Jan 13, 2004

I am HIV positive and have been out of work for for about 1 year after major corporate downsizing at my previous employer. I elected to continue my health insurance plan through COBRA so I have no gap in coverage. I have finally found a new job and will have a new health insurance company. The company I will be working for has approx. 500 employees. I read some job postings on this forum that stated new insurance companies can ask you to report whether or not you are HIV positive during enrollment. I did not have that asked when I enrolled in my last employers health plan but I am terrified at the thought I may have to do that this time. Is this legal to ask that question? Could I be denied employment or insurance coverage if I have to reveal my HIV status? I am in excellent health and am fully able to perform the work required of this position but I am afraid of discrimination if I must reveal my private health information. Please help.

Response from Ms. Breuer

What you're reading about is a health questionnaire that some employers use when you sign up for group coverage. If you receive that questionnaire, take it to your doc and fill it out with him/her, doing all you can to protect your confidentiality. But I wouldn't worry about job loss in the situation you describe. Firing someone on the basis of a disability is illegal in every state. An employer with 500 employees is likely to be well-informed enough to know that.

Your question contains the key information: you are fully able to fulfill the essential functions of the job. There are ways to keep a clumsy questionnaire from getting in the way. Please read some of the other questions in this forum about disclosure for new employees because of health questionnaires. The question comes up often, and there are ways to deal with it.

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