Sen. Jim Wilson said he will introduce legislation for the upcoming session to prohibit health insurance companies from classifying domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. Wilson, a Democrat from Tahlequah, began working on the measure after recent reports stating Oklahoma was one of only eight states that allowed insurance companies to deny claims based on the pre-existing condition of domestic violence.
“These women have already been victimized by their abuser—but here in Oklahoma they can be victimized again by their own insurance company,” Wilson said. “Maybe under current law it is legal for companies to do this, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. My legislation would close this loophole.”
Under Wilson’s legislation, no health benefit plan would be able to deny coverage or exclude any person from any health benefit plan on the basis of an individual’s status as a victim of domestic abuse.
“Right now in Oklahoma, a woman with breast cancer can be denied coverage because at some point in her life she had been the victim of domestic violence,” Wilson said. “She’s being punished, denied access to healthcare, because she was the victim of a crime. That is unconscionable.”
If approved, any insurance plan issued or renewed on or after November 1, 2010, would be prohibited from considering domestic abuse as a preexisting condition.
“This loophole doesn’t exist in 42 other states,” Wilson said. “It is my hope that members in both chambers will act quickly to pass this legislation on behalf of the women and families of Oklahoma.”