Recent medical breakthroughs have brought a cure for Hepatitis C, not remission but cure. This comes just as life insurance companies are finally trying to wrap their minds around the fact that well controlled HIV and well controlled type one diabetes are no longer the killers they once were. And now there are whispers of a cure for HIV on the horizon. If something is cured that means that it isn’t there any more and can’t cause you to die, so why is that insurance companies seem so slow to react to the news?
So, let’s put things in perspective from a life insurance company standpoint. I know you don’t want to hear this from me, but it’s the real world of managing a business that takes in a lot of money but also shells it out in very large chunks. Life insurance underwriters see a cure for Hep C and that is great news compared to ten years when the path to control was medications that were often as damaging to the body as the disease. Now Hep C is curable without all the side effects but life insurance companies have to underwrite carefully because those whose insurance companies will pay for the cure at this point are those who are the most ravaged by the disease. When you are losing the battle with Hep C, your insurance company finally ponies up the $100,000 or so it takes to cure and stop the health processes that Hep C starts.
I’ve heard that the liver is amazing in its’ ability to heal itself, but there is also a point where the liver is damaged beyond repair as is the case with some levels of cirrhosis. When Hep C compromises your liver to that extent the only cure is a liver transplant. So back to the wishy washy life insurance company and its’ view of your Hep C cure. If Hep C didn’t potentially cause a laundry list of other health problems which may or may not improve with the cure of the Hep C, it might be a simple piece of underwriting. But for life insurance underwriters there are some outstanding questions for new “cures”. Understand that actuaries and mortality studies don’t change their minds with really what amounts to a few cures in the entire pool of those with Hep C. Life insurance has always been and will always be run by the law of large numbers. There has to be long term proof of the cure, the side effects, and for those who have sustained damage from Hep C, the new mortality expectancy before life insurance companies are going to bring pricing down significantly. One company, MetLife, jumped all over the cured band wagon and hasn’t been heard from on the topic since.
Bottom line. To put that last thought in perspective there have been a lot of companies playing around the fringes of approving well controlled HIV+ for a few years. While there have been a few approvals and a lot of declines, there is a company that has methodically considered every angle on this for the last six years and within the next few months will start offering traditional life insurance with solid, albeit tough, underwriting guidelines for well controlled HIV. The other companies stuck their toes in the water and ran the other way. This company will be in it for the long haul. So, studies of what it means to have well controlled HIV or cured Hep C, take time. I will be doing a follow up post on different company responses to cured Hep C by the end of the week. If you have questions please call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.
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