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New company DEMANDING health insurance questionnaire
Jan 11, 2012

I changed jobs to a company with almost 50 employees. I was shocked to find that the new company utilizes a "small business" group health insurance plan, designed for companies with between 1-19 employees. This plan requires me to submit a detailed health questionnaire, which asks about my HIV status and whether or not I am receiving medication for it. I am supposed to submit this paperwork to an administrative assistant. There is not a privacy envelope, just a loose questionnaire. I do not know what she will do with the paperwork. You've previously recommended that in instances like this we investigate submitting the paperwork to the insurance company directly. I did that and the insurer, Medical Mutual of Ohio, flatly refused to accept the paperwork, telling me that I was to follow my employer's instructions. I indicated that this was a conflict of interest for the assistant to maintain my confidentiality, and suggested that it sounded like a violation of HIPPA laws. The representative I spoke with contacted his manager and restated that I was to submit it to the employer's administrative assistant, per their instructions. I've no doubt that my goose is cooked. Do you have any suggestions as to how I should proceed to maintain my confidentiality and protect against health discrimination? Is there anything I can do to be proactive about documenting what I anticipate will be a questionable dismissal?

Response from Mr. Chambers

This is a tough position. You would surely be covered, however, I don't blame you for not wanting your status to become public knowledge at your employer. Some states allow health questionnaires for small groups. They don't prevent coverage, but it does give employers opportunities to see confidential medical information. It sounds like your employer is using a form that may not be permitted for its size. It also sounds as if your insurance carrier is not cooperating as they could or should. I encourage you to contact a legal services agency in your area for assistance. Contact one of the AIDS Services Organization in your area or the Ohio Legal Services at 1.866.LAW.OHIO (1.866.529.6446) and see if they can help or can refer you to someone who can.

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