Current Affairs

Gay men incorrectly sent for HIV tests by health insurers

Adam Lake April 23, 2008
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Research has shown that many gay men are too often being sent to have unnecessary HIV tests when they apply for health insurance.

The survey, carried out by Compass, a group that give financial advice to gay men, asked staff at the top 10 insurers to provide their company’s limit at which an applicant would be sent for an HIV test.

It found that 80% of frontline customer service staff gave incorrect information.

Chris Morgan, managing director of Compass and a member of the Association of British Insurers Working Party on HIV, said:

“I find it surprising that two of the major insurers (Legal & General and AEGON) have still not acknowledged the message that ‘gay is good’.

Following the introduction of the Goods and Services Act 2007, most insurance companies mended their ways, but it seems that some are still dragging their feet.”

The Compass report found that men who have sex with men are more likely to be subjected to unnecessary HIV tests than heterosexual applicants despite the guidelines.

Lesley McPherson, head of corporate media at AEGON, defended the insurer:

“We are surprised and disappointed by the findings of this survey and will be providing additional training to our customer service staff in order that they are familiar with our HIV testing limits and underwriting philosophy in order that this type of incident does not happen in the future.”

Russ Whitworth, director of underwriting and claims at Legal & General also denied any wrongdoing:

“We take no account of whether a male customer is gay; we do not ask customers if they are gay at any time.

“Our policy is to ask an applicant to take an HIV test for high sums assured for life cover – for single males this is over £300,000 and for married males, males in a civil partnership and all females this is over £1m.

“The latter matches the highest limit in the industry. We absolutely refute the suggestion that we would discriminate against gay people.”

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