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My Employer Is Seeking A New Insurance Provider
Dec 18, 2001

I was diagnosed with AIDS on October 15th of this year. I've been seeing a specialist that I'm very comfortable with and have already had good results. My problem is as follows: About 3 weeks ago the controller of the company I work for informed all employees that our present insurance is about to go up 33 and that our insurance agent would be shopping for quotes from new companies. On Dec. 14th we were given applications from three new companies and told that we need to have the completed forms back to our controller by Dec. 18th (this coming Tuesday). I'm very concerned about the controller of our small company seeing my status. I'd never thought about it before, but now it seems that this information should go directly to the insurance companies involved rather than through the hands of someone we work with. I'm also concerned that since we're a small company (probably fewer than 50 of our employees are enrolled in our insurance program) that my status will bring on rates that are too high to be affordable for everyone involved. I would certainly appreciate any thoughts or suggestions as soon as possible since I'll have too act, one way or another, very shortly. Thank you.

Response from Ms. Breuer

I assume that the questionnaire asks about HIV status. I recommend that you reply honestly, but write on the application form a note reminding the controller that all medical information in the workplace--everyone's-- is confidential, and you will be forced to pursue it with an attorney if your medical information is shared with anyone else in the company. Yes, the questionnaires should go straight to the insurer. You might want to put a cover note on yours suggesting that to the controller.

This puts the controller in an unfortunate position. HR issues probably aren't in his portfolio, but he's stumbling over one right now. It's easier to prevent an unwarranted disclosure than it is to mop up after one, though, so be firm in your note.

Incidentally, during the 80's and early 90's your concern about driving up premiums would have been warranted. But the new medications have put HIV much further down the list of potential "break the bank" diagnoses. Your controller probably doesn't know THAT either. You need regular medical care and regular medications. So do lots of other people.

Good luck, and please write back if you have further questions.

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