Sexual Assault Survivors Often Charged Thousands in Hospital Bills, Study Finds

Laws meant to make medical services free for sexual assault survivors should be expanded to include all costs, researchers recommend.

Despite federal laws prohibiting the charging of medical bills caused by a sexual assault, a new study has found more than 15% of survivors are still being asked to pay out-of-pocket expenses, averaging thousands of dollars.

Findings published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine highlight several gaps in the existing restrictions on medical billing for sexual assault survivors.

Researchers from Planned Parenthood and City University of New York at Hunter College report that despite the Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law that was enacted in 1994 that prohibits sexual assault survivors from being charged for forensic exams, several services still are submitted to health insurance carriers or billed or directly to the victim.

The study involved a review of data on approximately 113,000 emergency department visits for survivors of sexual violence reported to the Department of Health and Human Services for 2019, finding 16% of victims, whether covered under health insurance or without, suffered financial losses.

The report indicates 16% of survivors suffered financial loss, with the average cost of medical billing to the patient amounting to $3,551 per person. For sexual assault survivors that were pregnant at the time, the average out-of-pocket costs increased drastically, with an average of $4,553 per person. The average cost of care for uninsured patients was $3,673.

The report found in several instances where survivors were charged for the exams and services provided by specialists, emergency contraception or treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Additional services found to be excluded from the federal law’s billing rules were services needed following the immediate evaluation, which included diagnostic testing, counseling, pregnancy tests or other services not considered part of that exam.

Researchers warn that these costs disproportionately affect low-income women and called for the Violence Against Women Act to be expanded to cover all services connected to sexual assault.


"*" indicates required fields

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

Provide additional contact information if you want an attorney to review your comments and contact you about a potential case. This information will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Suboxone Settlements Failed to Compensate Users Left With Tooth Decay or Tooth loss
Suboxone Settlements Failed to Compensate Users Left With Tooth Decay or Tooth loss (Posted today)

Although Suboxone settlements have been paid to resolve antitrust violations, users who suffered damages due to tooth decay from Suboxone film must pursue individual product liability lawsuits

Bard 3DMax Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Set for Trial To Begin in April 2024
Bard 3DMax Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Set for Trial To Begin in April 2024 (Posted yesterday)

With thousands of Bard hernia mesh lawsuits pending in the federal court system, a fourth bellwether trial will be held in the spring, involving allegations that defects with Bard 3DMax caused painful and permanent injuries.