The State Senate unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to protect victims of domestic violence from being denied insurance coverage. Senate Bill 1251, by Sen. Jim Wilson, would prohibit health insurance companies from classifying domestic violence as a pre-existing condition.
“Oklahoma is one of only eight states that allows insurance companies to deny claims based on the pre-existing condition of domestic violence,” said Wilson, D-Tahlequah. “These women have already suffered enough at the hands of their abusers, they shouldn’t be victimized by the insurance industry as well. It broke my heart when I found out this was taking place, and I hope my bill gets through the House and to the Governor’s desk quickly so we can start helping these women instead of further punishing them.”
Under SB 1251, 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.
“Insurance should help people, not cause them further pain. We have a major problem in our state when a woman with breast cancer can be denied coverage because at some point in her life she was the victim of domestic violence,” said Wilson. “It makes no sense. Women are being punished because they are the victims of crime.”
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.