|HIV Medication Disclosure
Jul 30, 2014
Hi, The company I work for contracts an onsite clinic to do all of its medical related dealings. This onsite clinic has its own doctors, nurses, office administrators, labs, etc. all there to provide services ONLY to the employees of the company I work for. While at the reception of the clinic with other people around us, one of the supervisor for the dept I work for started filling out the drug test form by asking me the questions on the form, all private information such as; name, address, ssn, etc. Including if I was under any prescribed medication and what they were. I did not answer and told her it was private information. I was then called into a room where the drug test administrator was more persistent Feeling stressed & under pressure I was forced to disclose the name of medication (norvir, prezista, truvada) therefore revealing my medical condition. A few weeks later I got a call from a Doctor in charge of my drug test. He asked for names of the medication I was taking. I was very hesitant to answer due to the fact that this is an extremely private part of my life, I requested for union representation to be included in the phone call. He informed me that as a private physician everything Id say would be confidential information. I again ended up disclosing my meds and ongoing issues over my health, all very private to me. I came to find out later that this doctor was not from an outside clinic. He works for the companys clinic. Was all this legal? Were my HIPPA rights violated by the company when the supervisor asked me those questions? What about when I felt forced to disclose to the drug test administrator and the doctor? Both representing the companys best interest, not mine. Please help me. I have been HIV positive since October 2010, its all still very new to me. I contracted HIV while on duty for the company I work for. Up until the time I became HIV positive, in 5 years of employment, I never called in sick. Once I became HIV positive and got Family Medical Leave, I started feeling harassed for and in many occasions felt obligated to go to work feeling ill, everything got more complicated. The situation at work ruined my relationship with my HIV doctor, I stopped seeing him, I spent 6 months treating my symptoms on my own while on work layovers overseas so that Id not be calling in sick and risk losing my job. I ended up taking different medication overseas to treat different health related issues, not a very smart idea, but feeling pressured, under fear and wanting to fight off my symptoms I did what I did. Now Im faced with a positive drug test that will hunt me for the rest of my life and will ruin my carrier. A friend told me about THE BODY and here I am asking to see if you can help me get some legal help. I dont know where to turn to. Thank you.
| Response from Mr. Chambers
The way the HIPAA law is written, you can give information to a medical provider, however, they are prohibited from releasing that information to anyone, with the exception of other medical providers as part of resolving your treatment issues. Even if employed by your employer, they are not permitted to give any medical information about you to the employer without your written consent.
To be properly treated medically, however, it is essential that the medical providers know all about your condition, including what medications you are on to avoid any adverse interaction with other medications or treatment. Some medications can even distort results of laboratory tests.
Should this occur again, I think the question to ask would be "Where is this information going and who has a right to see it?" Your employer will not and should not be on that list.
About the clinic, is that the only clinic you are allowed to receive treatment from? Does the employer not provide any other type of health insurance that would allow you to use outside physicians?
For this coverage to be considered adequate health coverage under Obamacare, it must provide 10 Essential Health Benefits, have no Maximum Limit on benefits, cover Preventative Services at 100% with no deductible, and meet several other requirements.
Assuming the services of the in-house clinic does not come under the new federal law, you would be eligible to purchase your own health insurance at the next Open Enrollment for Obamacare plans which starts this November 15. Then your health care would be totally separated from your employment, and, depending on your income, may qualify you for premium assistance.
This is a complicated situation, so I encourage you to explore it further. Ideally, there is an AIDS Service Organization in your vicinity who can provide or refer a benefits specialist who would help you understand what choices you have based on what your current coverage consists of.
I wish you the best. I don't know where you are located, but having people at your employment be aware of your HIV status, could definitely present problems.
Good luck, Jacques
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