Sexual Assault Victims Made To Pay Thousands For Their Medical Care
A Louisiana hospital is currently receiving harsh criticism for its treatment of sexual assault victims after news broke that they’re being made to pay THOUSANDS of dollars for medical care they receive following their attacks.
Sexual assault is already one of the most underreported crimes, period,” said Amanda Tonkovich, a counselor at New Orleans Family Justice Center and coordinator of the New Orleans Sexual Assault Response Team. “Even if people don’t want to report, we want them to come to the hospital and make sure they’re OK, medically speaking.”
In New Orleans, rape victims were once examined for free.
Last year, a New Orleans college student awoke nude in a public place, disoriented and fearing she had been drugged and raped.
Emergency officials responded to the scene and urged her to let them take her to the hospital.
She hesitated. She just wanted to go home. She also worried the hospital charges would appear on insurance statements and alarm her parents, whose health plan she was on. But, she said, the responders convinced her there would be no charge.
A year later, a letter appeared in her campus mailbox informing her that she owed $2,254.
“When I first saw it, I was confused,” she said. “It was a known policy that you won’t be charged. … To have it just pop right back into my life, it was hard.”
At Interim LSU, where trained nurses see about 20 to 25 sexual assault patients per month, nurses until recently were instructed to reassure victims they would not be billed.
Although the public hospital was not required by law to do so, it for years absorbed the costs of these exams and all the related medical expenses, area sexual assault victim advocates said.
“Now that’s changed,” Tonkovich said.
Siona LaFrance, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said that Interim LSU does not charge patients for costs associated with the collection of evidence or a pelvic exam. But it does bill for related tests to learn if the victim is pregnant or has HIV, she said.
“We can’t speak to the hospital’s previous practices prior to the transition from LSU,” LaFrance wrote in an email.
This is terrible, can you imagine being violated and then asked to pay a hefty hospital bill???? What if you get raped and can’t afford the treatment???