California Bill Would Require Insurers To Pay for HIV Tests if Signed By Gov. Schwarzenegger
Health care insurers will be required to cover routine HIV tests if a bill (AB 1894) passed by the California Legislature in August is signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the San Fernando Valley Business Journal reports. According to the California Office of AIDS, about 40,000 Californians are HIV-positive but are not aware of their status. CDC figures show that about 40% of the U.S. population has ever received an HIV test.
Some supporters of the bill, by Assembly member Paul Krekorian (D), said that the lack of HIV testing sites puts more people at risk of HIV infection. In a statement, Krekorian said that the "important bill creates an environment in which testing will become routine and more Californians will know their HIV status, get linked to care as needed and have an overall better quality of life. Studies have shown that when individuals know their HIV status, those found to be positive take steps to decrease the risk of passing their HIV infections on to others. AB 1894 is a straightforward solution to a growing public health dilemma. It helps pave the way to encourage widespread and routine HIV testing throughout California -- something the CDC first recommended nationwide nearly two years ago. It is prudent legislation that will save lives."
The Journal reports that one reason CDC's suggestions have not been followed by some physicians is because the agency did not recommend who should pay for the tests, which cost about $20. Requiring insurers to cover HIV tests would make payment a "nonissue," according to the Journal (Kareem, San Fernando Valley Business Journal, 9/15).