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Insurance Issues with Test?
Nov 21, 2004

I have a question regarding insurance.

I recently had an encounter that would be considered low-risk for HIV. I know there's very little chance I have contracted it, but I'm a worrier and need to test for peace of mind. I have health insurance through a group plan from my husband's employer.

My state does not offer anonymous testing - I've checked. (No, not Alabama, but might as well be in this case.) I took a 4-week test, negative, through an anonymous clinic, but had to drive to the next state to do so, and I don't really want to make the four hour round trip again! It wouldn't be the least bit convenient, nor would it be prudent to drive that far if you don't have to, with winter coming.

For my three-month test, I was planning on going to my doctor's office, as I am going to do a couple other STD tests as well. My question is, can it come back to haunt me if I do an HIV test through my insurance, even if it's negative? Would they put me on a 'watch' list or anything, or could I be denied future coverage? (It bothers me enough to do other STD testing through insurance, let alone HIV, although I really don't think that's as big a deal.)

Also, if on the off chance it does turn up positive, can I be dropped by my insurance, or denied future coverage, say if my husband changes jobs, or if I take insurance through my job?

Finally, my state offers 'confidential' testing (which I consider a joke) several places... I have thought about going to Planned Parenthood for a test and giving them a fake name and address. Would they check this information or ask for ID, do you know? And aside from the obvious, do you see major ethical considerations with that, or would you see it as reasonable to protect one's privacy?

Thank you, I really look forward to seeing your opinion.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Great question. Thanks for asking it.

You're wise to wonder whether asking for an HIV test at your doctor's office would be a red flag to an insurer. The answer I have received when I've discussed this with human resources professionals and insurance professionals is "yes." When a doc does an HIV test in the process of trying to diagnose a stubborn infection, for example, that's viewed as normal and isn't a red flag. When the patient asks for the test out of blue, it can be a flag.

Confidential testing at Planned Parenthood would be a good way to go. It's amazing how many Jesse Helmses and Hilary Clintons have had "confidential" HIV tests there. In fact, why not have the whole battery of STD tests there? Then the HIV test will just be part of the package, and once again you'll be in control of the results. An out of the blue request for other STD tests is a red flag on medical records, too.

If for some reason it turns up positive, and I earnestly hope for your sake that it doesn't, then you would have control of the information. It affects individual insurance rates when it appears in individual medical records--that's how it reaches insurance companies. If your husband participates in a group plan, neither his medical records or yours would be relevant. He's in the group, period. If you take insurance through your job, wait for the annual open enrollment period. That way you're least likely to face a medical exam or questionnaire. If there is one of either, please check all the responses on this forum about medical exams and questionnaires. You can probably still protect your privacy.

I wish you well.



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