Sanborn bill to protect life insurance consumers receives committee approval

Posted: April 09, 2019 | Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services, Senator Heather Sanborn

AUGUSTA — A bill from Sen. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, to help make sure life insurance companies can’t discriminate against the family, friends and neighbors of recovering opioid addicts received committee approval from the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services on Tuesday, April 2. LD 1047, “An Act To Prohibit Consideration of Naloxone Purchases in Life Insurance Underwriting,” now faces votes in the Maine.

“Healthcare workers and police officers who already do so much to protect our communities should not have to worry about whether they’ll be denied insurance coverage just because of the life-saving tools they carry. No good Samaritan looking to save a life should be deterred from doing so.” said Sen. Sanborn, who is chair of the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. “I’m glad this committee has decided to support this bill and help protect Mainers who are on the front lines of the opioid crisis.”

In April 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a public health advisory calling on those who are dealing with opioid use disorder, those who are prescribed high doses of opioid drugs, as well as family and community members who many come in contact with them, to acquire and learn how to administer the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. The advisory carries the tagline “BE PREPARED. GET NALOXONE. SAVE A LIFE.”

Later that year, National Public Radio reported on a nurse employed at Boston Medical Center who found out she was denied life insurance coverage because she carried a prescription for naloxone. The nurse carried the prescription as part of her work in an addiction treatment program at the hospital. The insurance company considered the prescription an indication that the nurse abused drugs, although she carried it solely to be prepared to save the life of another person.

In order to help combat the opioid crisis in Maine, the 128th Legislature enacted a law that allowed naloxone to be prescribed and dispensed to anyone, with or without a personal prescription.

LD 1047 would prohibit a denial or limitation of coverage or an increase in insurance premiums under a life insurance policy based on the fact that an individual has been issued a prescription for naloxone or has purchased naloxone.