For years, hospitals in northeastern Wisconsin have charged sexual assault victims as much as $1,200 for the cost of their examinations and rape kits, according to a report by the Post-Crescent newspaper.
Despite the availability of government funds to cover the cost of sexual assault examinations and rape kits, many hospitals were sending the bill to victims.
The Associated Press added:
When someone is sexually assaulted, the process of collecting forensic evidence can include taking pictures of bruises, swabs of sexual fluids or hair. Other expenses, which can include a pregnancy test, antibiotics and medical supplies, can bring the final price tag to about $1,200.
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For example, hospitals in the ThedaCare system used to absorb the cost for years as part of their charity care, said Jean Coopman-Jansen a program coordinator at Appleton Medical Center. After a change to comply with the health system’s billing rules, some victims last year were forced to pay the costs themselves, she said.
Jill Karofsky, head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Office of Crime Victim Services, said the state government recently began working with hospitals to educate them on how to properly use government funds so that rape victims wouldn’t be charged for examinations.
Karofsky told the Post-Crescent: “The message to victims is when someone sexually assaults them, their body becomes a crime scene and they are submitting to a very invasive exam and the state frankly ought to pay for it. … It’s forensic evidence."