7 On Your Side

HIV patients get privacy win from Anthem Blue Cross

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Here is a big privacy win for those living with HIV and AIDS and this win could spread to all patients who need medication.

This story begins when Anthem Blue Cross informed some of its members that their medications would only be available by mail order, which saves money. That upset some patients and set a lawsuit into motion.

One patient told us, "I feel bullied, picked at, or excluded from the group."

For privacy reasons a HIV patient did not want his identity to be known, but he worked closely with Consumer Watchdog to sue Blue Cross saying the rules were discriminatory.

The San Francisco-based Courage Campaign jumped in saying the rules were dangerous too.

"Their relationship with their pharmacist is critical to their health care, especially here in san Francisco where we have some of the most knowledgeable pharmacists about HIV and AIDS in the whole country," said Eddie Kurtz from Courage Campaign.

"I hope they see the errors of their ways and at least allow me to continue my relationship with my pharmacy," said the patient.

And there has been a change. In a written statement, the company told us on Thursday there will be new rules. Darrel Ng, a spokesperson for Anthem Blue Cross said, "Anthem Blue Cross members who prefer to receive their HIV/AIDS specialty prescription drugs from a local specialty pharmacy can 'opt-out' permanently of the mail order program by making one convenient phone call."

Consumer Watchdog's Jamie Court told us on Thursday Anthem Blue Cross worked quickly to come to a settlement that would serve the HIV/AIDS community. He told us, "I think it is a big victory for people who want confidentiality, who what the help of a pharmacist, who don't want to just get a box of drugs for a very sensitive medical condition dumped on to their door step and I think other health insurers have to listen now."

Consumer Watchdog says not only does it want other insurance companies to join in, but also wants other patients to have this same rights to privacy and local pharmacies.

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Tags:
HIV, AIDS, drugs, health care, health insurance, anthem blue cross, 7 on your side, michael finney
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