Apparently so. It turns out that in nine states and Washington, D.C. insurance companies are not prohibited from dropping coverage for patients with a history of domestic abuse. The Women’s Law Project documented this in detail in their 2002 Supplement Report entitled “Insurance Discrimination Against Victims of Domestic Violence” (pdf here) and in their 2008 report “Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women” (pdf here).
According to WLP’s 2002 Supplement:
Since 1994, 41 states have adopted some form of legislation prohibiting insurance discrimination against victims of domestic violence. These laws were adopted during the years when the learning curve about types of insurance practices that affect victims was continuously rising and the NAIC [National Association of Insurance Commissioners] model laws were in development.
The states that allow companies to drop patients’ claims if they’ve been attacked by their husbands are: Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and Washington, DC.
According to an article published today in The Huffington Post this practice is consistently defended by Republicans in Congress:
In 2006, Democrats tried to end the practice. An amendment introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), now a member of leadership, split the Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee 10-10. The tie meant that the measure failed.
All ten no votes were Republicans, including Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), a member of the “Gang of Six” on the Finance Committee who are hashing out a bipartisan bill. A spokesman for Enzi didn’t immediately return a call from Huffington Post.
At the time, Enzi defended his vote by saying that such regulations could increase the price of insurance and make it out of reach for more people. “If you have no insurance, it doesn’t matter what services are mandated by the state,” he said, according to a CQ Today item from March 15th, 2006.
Brilliant logic from Senator Enzi. Why should battered women have health care if it’s going to raise my premiums? Too bad there’s no clause to deny someone coverage for needless cruelty or abject stupidity. Enzi could be thrown off the roles himself, that is if all members of Congress didn’t already enjoy universal health care.