NEW YORK — State financial regulators in New York said this week that they would investigate reports that gay men have been denied insurance policies covering life, disability or long-term care because they were taking medication to protect themselves against HIV, the New York Times reports.
Such denials would amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the companies doing so could be penalized, said Maria T. Vullo, the state’s superintendent of financial services, the Times reports.
The investigation was triggered by an article published Tuesday by the New York Times, she said.
The Times reported that various insurers around the country had denied policies to gay men after learning they were on PrEP. To get insurance, some men even stopped taking the protective drugs.
AIDS experts have condemned the insurance denials as both discriminatory and nonsensical, because they deny policies to good risks — men who protect themselves.
“This is tantamount to penalizing applicants based on sexual orientation,” Vullo told the New York Times. “Insurers cannot choose to deny coverage based on discriminatory reasons.”
Insurers often do not explain why they turn down an application, but regulators have the power to ask exactly what criteria they use, to rule some criteria invalid, and to demand the records of individual cases, said Richard Loconte, a spokesman for the department, according to the New York Times.