Billing for rape: Louisiana sex assault victims often face hefty bills for medical care


#1

New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Billing for rape: Louisiana sex assault victims often face hefty bills for medical care

She was questioned, prodded and photographed over the course of six hours. Nurses collected samples of tissue and fluid from her mouth and her body. They took her urine, drew her blood and bagged her clothes. They offered her drugs to prevent pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Then, they led her to a private shower and sent her home.

Her life, she felt, was now divided into two eras: Pre-rape and post-rape. Eight days into the shock of this new reality, she received a letter she couldn’t comprehend.
The cost of some of the medical services she received totaled nearly $2,000, it said. Insurance would pay $1,400. She would owe the remaining $600 – for her share of the cost of two HIV drugs and two other medications designed to stave off side-effects of those drugs.

She folded the papers, stuffed them in her purse and tried to calm down. A few days later, another bill would arrive, showing an additional $1,700 in charges for her care, including an $860 fee for her visit to the emergency room.
“You never really think, ‘Is rape covered by insurance?’” the New Orleans woman said.

The letter from the hospital was no aberration. In Louisiana, victims of sex crimes often face paralyzing bills for forensic medical exams and related care, even though state and federal guidelines require that many of these services be provided at no cost to the victim. And there’s little continuity in how rape victims are treated from parish to parish and hospital to hospital.

While the state’s Crime Victims Reparations Fund does permit victims to apply for reimbursement for some medical expenses, there are strict limitations regarding who can qualify, including a requirement that the victim file a police report. Research by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates nearly two-thirds of sex assault victims don’t ever go to law enforcement.

:mad:


#2

This is why everyone needs health insurance. If I’m in a car accident I’m responsible for the health care bills even if I’m the victim. The recourse is for the harmed party to sue the person(s) that caused the need for the medical care.


#3

Medical care for victims of crime should be free, simple as that especially if you didn’t go out of your way to become a victim, like rape victims, the last thing they need is a bill to add insult to injury


#4

Every person should have Health Insurance to pay for any medical care they need. A crime victim can sue the person that committed the crime for reimbursement of their costs. If you’re shot in the street today you are responsible for your medical bills not the State unless you are on Medicaid or Medicare .


#5

Except these weren’t cases where people were uninsured. They were informed at the time that services wouldn’t be billed when they were, or they simply didn’t have a chance to check at the time if specific services were covered.

A lawsuit can be pretty traumatic in and of itself to a victim. Especially if PTSD is a factor a lawsuit could very well take away the time and energy a victim has available to maintain a job. And of course you’re also going to have to have enough evidence. So for example the mentioned case where the woman woke up from being drugged, there’s no one to sue.

The most basic fix here seems to be making sure everyone’s clear on the rules and regulations. There’s several examples in the article of people being assured they wouldn’t be charged for things they were later charged for. There’s also the comment at the end of the article of one woman receiving information on how she could get compensation after the filing deadline. So the first step would be to fix that - make every hospital have a written sheet with what is and isn’t charged and how much and where victims can go for help, and ensure it complies with the law.

But really I don’t see much downside to providing this sort of care free of charge. Hospitals aren’t exactly going to be overwhelmed and I don’t see any real reason why someone would falsely go through this sort of exam.


#6

Well im so glad i live in England, if i had received a bill after i was raped i would have gone crazy thats the last thing anyone needs


#7

Well, the victim ends up bearing the costs of crimes whether property or personal. It is far more horrific when it’s a personal attack with injury like rape. But this is the same thing which happens-- being the victim of a crime will usually involve some kind of cost borne by the victim. It’s why most states have a victim’s assistance fund where people can get some funds to help defray costs.

The other option is when the perpetrator is caught, sue them for reimbursement- or working with the prosecutor in a criminal case like rape, have restitution to the victim as part of the sentence.

In no way the equivalent of rape, but I had a friend back when we were starving college students without a dime to spare who had his motorcycle stolen. It was recovered by the police, but my friend didn’t have the money to pay the storage yard where it had been placed. He was the victim, but he still couldn’t get his property and had to walk/find rides/bus for a while.


#8

At least in the us rape kits are done and police bother to investigate women get raped here oh guess what its your fault according to mexican cops and most of the society this woman should have gotten free care yes since she was a victim of a violent crime but alas the system is flawed shell just have to make a payment plan with the hospital and pay the bill


#9

I’m grateful I live in a jurisdiction that does it right. The victim is not billed for the evidentury exam; the county where the crime happened is. Also, since there is no cost to the victim insurance companies are not informed so it’s another layer of privacy. If my state can do it it’s doable.

I wonder whos id standing in the way of legislation to make this possible?


#10

It sounds like in a lots of cases the legislation is there. Either it’s not being enforced or it’s lost in a bureaucratic mess where victims aren’t properly informed of what they need to do to get it paid.


#11

Doesn’t really surprise me coming from a country that allows men to sue for access for babies conceived from rape.Disgusting.:mad:


#12

This is why getting assistance from a victim advocate can be crucial. Training includes correct protocols for collection of evidence and chain of evidence which ER staff don’t always know or remember. I wonder if SANE nurses can offer guidance with this.


#13

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