According to a study published in the journal New England Journal of Medicineand relayed by the American site Vox, women victims of rape in the United States are sometimes required to pay exorbitant bills related to their emergency treatment. The authors of the study analyzed data from 112,000 patients who arrived at emergency departments after rape or sexual assault in 2019 (the last year for which complete data is available). They specify that this reference group comprised 90% women and 38% minors.
As detailed Vox, going to the emergency room after a rape or sexual assault involves two types of care. First, a forensic examination during which the necessary samples are taken to characterize the attack and collect DNA evidence. These costs are, barring any administrative error, borne by the community.
But patients are also required to receive therapeutic care, “in other words, all the medical care required after an attack”. Doctors often give patients antibiotics for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and emergency contraception. They must sometimes practice care to treat the injuries during the aggression: vaginal and anal fissures and fractures.
It is this second part of the care that is sometimes not reimbursed, and the sums involved “are amazing”, explains the title:
“Victims without health insurance, or 17,000 people in 2019, had to pay, on average, $3,673.”
Insured persons were required to pay lower sums, but largely dependent on their insurance contract. “Such invoices are an additional trauma for the victims, denounce the authors of the study, when they do not dissuade them from turning to professionals. It is estimated that after a sexual assault, only one in five victims opts for medical treatment.”
According to doctors interviewed by Vox, the political context is conducive to exacerbating this problem. Indeed, in the wake of the revocation of the Roe judgment vs. Wade, abortion rights are being rolled back in many states. Added to this is the growing difficulty in accessing contraceptive methods.