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Employment Drug Tests
Mar 6, 2006

My question comes in two parts:

1. I am at the final stages of interviewing for a new job with large corporation. I am coinfected with HIV and Hep C and undergoing treatment.

My current company's policy is I am required to immediately notify them as soon as I accept an offer with a competitor and I will not be eligible to receive any further benefits from the date.

There will only be a few weeks between the old job and the new one but my concern lies in the "continuation of care" during that period.

If I will not be eligible to receive any further benefits after notifying my old company of the move, will I need to take out COBRA? Someone said something to me about still being entitled to healthcare for 45 days until you elect whether to take COBRA.

The new company say they give immediate coverage through their medical and prescription health plans which is great.

Does that mean I will have immediate access on the first day I walk in the door? Is it possible there will be a pre-existing condition clause?

Obviously I don't want to disclose my health status, as all they need to know if that I am capable of performing the functions of the job. I don't want to ask too many questions on the specifics of the healthcare plan for fear of raising a flag.

2. My second question relates to drug tests. I don't know if the new company will require a drug test but I wanted to be sure what I do and don't need to notify them of in case some of my prescriptions drugs cause me to fail the test.

I am taking:

Lexapro 20mg (Daily) Reyataz 150mg (Twice Daily) Truvada 200-300mg (Daily) Norvir 100mg (Daily) Copegus 200mg (Two Twice Daily) Pegasys 180mcg (Weekly) Prescribed Xanax 0.5mg (Twice Daily)

Do you know if any of these drugs will cause a failure on a drug test (I'm sure the Xanax will but I'm not sure about any of the others)?

If I have to notify them of any of these prescription drugs, will a copy of the receipt from my last refill suffice? Or do I need a letter from my doctor saying they are medically required?

Thanks, Sean

Response from Ms. Breuer

Dear Sean,

You are among the beneficiaries of HIPAA, the federal law that provides for continuity of coverage when people change employers.

As soon as you accept the new position, ask for a HIPAA certificate from the HR department of your present employer. When you walk into the new job, submit the HIPAA certificate to the benefits manager in HR. (I'd keep a photocopy if I were you.) This document allows you to enjoy seamless coverage, and obliterates the old bugaboo, pre-existing condition. There will be no break in your coverage. Kudos to Congress on this one! Unless you take a few months off between jobs, you will not need to bother with COBRA.

2. Drug tests: the best resource on any meds or combination of meds that could trigger a false positive drug test result is your pharmacist. We cannot keep up with the possible interactions as the formulary grows, but that's the pharmacist's job. Ask as well what else you shouldn't eat/drink right before an employment drug test, and you should be armed with everything you need to know.

They are not allowed to ask you what your prescription drugs are--another benefit of HIPAA, which strengthens your confidentiality. If they're out of line and do give you a form that asks, just write in "I am not taking any medication which would interfere with my fulfilling the essential functions of this job." That's what an employer needs. Specific meds are none of their beeswax.



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