FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2010
Contact: Michael Cox (503) 986-1904
House to Insurance Companies: You Can’t Use Sexual Assault as a Preexisting Condition
House Bill 3631 prohibits insurers from discriminating against victims of sexual violence
SALEM – The House today unanimously voted in favor of a bill brought forward by Representative Suzanne VanOrman (D-Hood River/Sandy) that prohibits insurers from discriminating against victims of sexual violence by treating that victimization, or physical or mental injuries sustained as a result of that victimization, as a preexisting condition that would exclude or limit coverage.
“This measure protects some of the most vulnerable members of our population,” said Rep. VanOrman. “No one should be denied health coverage because they are the victim of domestic and sexual violence.”
Approximately 1 in 6 Oregon women will experience sexual assault in her lifetime. And although sexual assault is a medical emergency, only a small minority of victims receive immediate medical care. Only about 16-18% of rapes are ever reported to law enforcement; even fewer victims access health care related to the sexual assault. One significant reason is the fear that the fact of victimization, or the prescription of emergency contraceptives or HIV prophylaxis in response to a rape, will be used by the victim’s insurer to deny coverage in the future.
“This bill is a proactive effort to prevent insurance discrimination against physical and mental injuries sustained as the result of this type of violence,” said Rep. VanOrman. “This bill will appropriately close the gap in protection for vulnerable victims of sexual violence.”
HB 3631 now moves to the Senate for consideration.