Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Election 2020: Live Results | Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice

Anthem Blue Cross Sued Over New HIV/AIDS Drug Policy

— A prominent consumer group is suing Anthem Blue Cross over a new policy that requires HIV patients to get their medications by mail. A San Diego man who's HIV positive is the lead plaintiff.

Anthem Blue Cross's new policy requiring HIV/AIDS patients to get their drugs by mail order has prompted a lawsuit charging the move is discriminatory.

Jon Jones, which is not his real name, has a PPO plan with Anthem Blue Cross.

A few months ago, the insurer informed Jones of their new policy: It would no longer allow HIV patients to get their medications at a local pharmacy. Blue Cross would only provide the drugs via mail order.

"Why they didn't include my heart medication, bladder, any of that, I don't know, but just strictly the four HIV drugs I take," Jones said.

Jones asked Blue Cross for an exemption. The company refused.

The non-profit group Consumer Watchdog is suing the insurer on behalf of Jones and other HIV patients. Staff attorney Jerry Flanagan said the new policy is illegal.

"This is a classic case of Blue Cross treating people different based on their health condition, specifically targeting consumers who are HIV/AIDS positive. And that's a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act," Flanagan explained.

A company spokesman said Anthem's new policy saves money and is compliant with the law.

Jones likes to be able to talk with his local pharmacist about drug interactions. He doesn't want to give that up.

"I feel very much discriminated against. I don't know, I feel bullied by it, actually, " Jones said.

The policy is set to begin in March. Consumer Watchdog is asking the court for an injunction to block the change.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.