This is a slap in the face!

Ignorance is bliss, or so they say.  But it is also dangerous.  And it can be costly.

Ever since some Madison Avenue genius realized gay men were this great, untapped “market” of consumers with money to burn, there has been an uptick in marketing to the gay community, and ever since California’s Dishonor Roll, which published the names of companies who lent financial support to the passage of our hateful and now overturned Prop 8 which criminalized same-sex marriage so we could boycott them the way we had boycotted Coors beer and Florida orange juice, many companies have sought the queer dollar through the look and feel of inclusivity — one man brushes the sleep from his eyes and yawns as he passes the milk across the table to his partner wearing nothing but a pair of Calvin Klein boxer-briefs in a tv ad for cereal, or the local branch of [insert_bigname_bank_here] trots out its LGBTQ employees’ group to wave rainbow flags on a float in your town’s Gay Pride parade like a bunch of trained seals balancing balls on their noses in a thinly veiled bit of pandering,

But, it is important to understand a company’s business practices.

I have written to you before, thoughtful reader, about what I consider to be the greatest advance in the history of ending the AIDS pandemic:  PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).  To recap, PrEP is an FDA-approved pill called Truvada taken once a day by those who DO NOT HAVE HIV/AIDS to keep them from becoming infected, even if the uninfected person has condomless sex with an infected person.

prep-explanation

PrEP is a game-changer.  Until there is a cure for HIV/AIDS, which I fully expect to see in my lifetime, I think we will speak of this disease in terms of the days before PrEP and the days after it, because until we can cure it, eradicating it must focus on preventing the transmission of it in high-risk populations, such as men who have anal intercourse with other men.  In the United States, most health insurers and state Medicaid agencies are covering the cost of PrEP so people can have access to this game-changing breakthrough in halting HIV transmission in the gay community.  Let’s be honest, regardless of what you think about homosexuals, prevention of the spread of a deadly epidemic which can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or sexual preference just makes sense.

But people applying individually for life insurance, long-term care insurance, and disability insurance are automatically denied coverage when a review of their medical records indicates they take PrEP.

Life, long-term care, and disability insurers determine the risk that an applicant will claim benefits by obtaining your medical records and they exclude you if you have a disqualifying health condition, or charge you higher premiums if you have certain health conditions.  But people who are excluded solely because they take PrEP do not have any disqualifying health condition; they are taking PrEP to avoid a disqualifying health condition.  The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) found that people taking PrEP are excluded because insurers like State Farm, Aetna, Metropolitan Life, John Hancock, Protective Life, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, and many more believe they are engaging in “high-risk sexual behavior” and deem them at risk for HIV.  No beating around the bush — they are talking about anal intercourse here.  So, someone otherwise eligible for insurance (ie, HIV-) is denied because of the kind of sex he is having.

The insurance industry is supposed to make decisions based on dispassionate analysis of actual data.  Research has shown that PrEP is 100% effective at reducing HIV transmission, making it far more effective than condoms (the use of which is not reflected in medical records since they are purchased over-the-counter at the local 7-11) which break, or are simply not used for a variety of personal or “lifestyle” reasons.  And yet insurers ignore the efficacy and public health benefit of PrEP and instead use it as a proxy for “high-risk sexual behavior” in their underwriting, making a moral judgment about the people who use PrEP, 80% of whom are gay men, while these same insurers offer insurance to people with a range of conditions that are controlled by medication, such as diabetes.

Take two people with identical GAY sex lives.  The PrEP user is denied insurance; the person who doesn’t use PrEP is insured — both are having anal intercourse, but because one sought a prescription for PrEP from his doctor to protect his own health and help stop the spread of a deadly disease, he is punished:  that makes zero sense.

Nada.  Zilch.  Goose-egg.

State Farm, Aetna, John Hancock, and Mutual of Omaha all have a 100% approval rating from the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States.  I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them wave the rainbow flag in one hand and turn us away with the other because of our sex lives.

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