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Changing jobs and insurance question
May 23, 2014

I have been diagnosed with hiv+ for the last 3 years, am very healthy, and I am covered under my current insurance. I live in Florida and I am in the process of filling out insurance paperwork for a new job for a company based in Ohio. One question I am being asked is:

"In the last 5 years have you or any member of your family listed on this application been diagnosed or treated by a licensed medical provider for cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, mental/nervous disorders, congenital birth defects or diseases, organ or other transplants, hemophilia, HIV/AIDS, immune disorders, bone/joint disorders, diseases of the liver, kidney, lungs, heart/circulatory system; or is anyone currently pregnant, incurred medical / pharmacy claims in excess of $5,000 or currently undergoing treatment / receiving care for a medical condition not listed above?"

"Please give details to any yes answer above. Person Condition/Diagnosis Treatment/Meds, Physicians Name, Dates Treated, Prognosis".

I am currently unsure how to fill this out as I have to send this back to the HR person in the next couple of days. My health condition is not something I really disclose to anyone outside my closest family and friends. Any ideas on how I should proceed?

Response from Mr. Chambers

I don't know how large this company is, but, assuming there are at least 15 employees, the employer comes under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and that question appeals to violate that law.

ADA states: Medical Examinations and Inquiries Employers may not ask job applicants about the existence, nature, or severity of a disability. Applicants may be asked about their ability to perform specific job functions. A job offer may be conditioned on the results of a medical examination, but only if the examination is required for all entering employees in similar jobs. Medical examinations of employees must be job related and consistent with the employer's business needs.

You should not have been asked these questions unless it is part of a pre-employment physical exam you are taking AFTER a job offer has been made.

Assuming you still would want to work for a company like this you have several choices, none of which are going to impress the employer: 1. Call HR and "inquire" about the question, wondering if it is legal under current law. If you want to hedge and just say you thought Americans with Disabilities Act prohibited those questions on a job application. I would assume that would cause them to cross you off their list.

2. Call the ADA hotline (800-514-0301) to confirm the question is prohibited and ask them how you should handle it. (For example, if it an illegal question, will lying on it cause you problems?)

3. Leave the question blank and see if they make an issue out of it.

I don't know how badly you want this job, but it's going to be difficult given your situation and their apparent attitude.

Good luck, Jacques


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