By Marie McDonald Hulen
SB 961 (Gonzalez), as introduced on February 10, 2020, known as the Equal Insurance HIV Act, would repeal and add sections 799.01 and 799.02, and add sections 799.03–799.10 to the Insurance Code. The California Department of Insurance and Equality California are co-sponsors of the bill. According to the fact sheet, the law would prevent insurers from denying life or disability income insurance coverage to HIV-positive individuals based on their HIV status alone and would overturn current law that allows such discrimination. The bill would also update statutory language to accurately reflect modern HIV testing and the life expectancy of people who are HIV positive.
In a Department of Insurance press release, Commissioner Ricardo Lara stated, “[a] person should not be defined by their HIV status and it should not be the only factor when determining their right to insurance protection. People living with HIV are raising families and seeing their children grow up just like anyone. This legislation is crucial to ensure they have equal access to the same kinds of insurance that helps us all plan for the future.”
SB 961 is currently pending in the Senate Insurance Committee.