Insurers Accused Of HIV Bias

Two HIV advocacy groups filed a federal complaint yesterday against 4 insurance companies that have placed anti-retroviral medications in their highest payment tiers. The complaint asserts that the four insurers — CoventryOne, Cigna, Humana and Preferred Medical Plan — placed H.I.V. drugs on the highest payment tier for midlevel, or silver, plans on the federal health insurance exchange in Florida. CoventryOne, for example, placed every H.I.V. drug, including generics, on the most restrictive tier, which meant consumers were required to exhaust a $1,000 deductible and were then asked to contribute 40 percent toward the cost of their drugs, the groups said. There were similar complaints against Humana and Cigna.  The Wall Street Journal reported in December that HIV organizations believed some health insurers had found other ways to discourage people infected with HIV from signing up for their plans, such as requiring higher copayments for HIV drugs than they would for other prescriptions. The two patient advocacy organizations are trying to challenge that practice by using another provision in the health law that bars any health program that receives federal funds from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.”

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