IND. Doctor reported medical history HIV over back pain to employer
After years of being very careful who knew, my roommate just received a copy of a letter where the doctor seeing her for a workmans' comp back injury reported to the employer and the insurance company under headings "medical history" that she was HIV positive and under "medications" that HIV medications taken. Is this legal?! It clearly stated in the letter that the injury was due to muscle strain and even went so far to list no problems with liver, heart, BP, etc. Can the doctor actually provide complete medical histories to employers and insurance companies when it isn't relevant to the problem? We're VERY upset. The only reason she told the doctor in the first place was because of the drugs, not wanting any problems mixing them with what she's been on. She does not have medical insurance. Does this mean she never will now, even if she does go to another job? Can that employer learn from their insurance, even if it is different, that she is HIV positive because this insurance company knows? I forgot to mention we live in Indiana.
She should discuss with her doctor why he disclosed this information. Legally the doctor has no right to disclose this medical information to her employer because it is not relevant to the work-related issue. She might want to discuss this with local counsel if she wishes to take any action. The insurance company cannot share this information with anyone.
With respect to medical coverage, if she were to go to work for a large employer and there is a group health plan offered and she is in the eligible class of employees, she would have coverage regardless of her HIV status. However, there could be a preexisting condition period (not to exceed 12 months) where she wouldn't have coverage for HIV-related illnesses. This would apply only if the plan had a preexisting condition clause. She should review the terms of any new health plan she obtains coverage under to see if there are any exclusions for or limits on treatment for HIV-related illnesses.