Hepatitis and life insurance
Hepatitis refers to liver inflammation that is normally caused viral infection.
It is now possible to get life insurance for someone with hepatitis. Hepatitis is a general term referring to inflammation of the liver. Because the symptoms can be mild, some people are not aware that they have had a bout of hepatitis. The liver enzymes (especially AST/SGOT and ALT/SGPT) tend to rise significantly.
Hepatitis A is usually transmitted through a food or water source. Most cases of Hepatitis A are self-limited and resolve spontaneously. Hepatitis A does not progress to chronic liver disease. And life insurers will typically not ask for extra premium.
Hepatitis B is usually spread via blood transfusion or sexual contact. Most people recover spontaneously. Life insurers will not typically rate up if there is spontaneous recovery. However, if it remains for several years there will most likely be extra premium.
Of those people with the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) up to 25% will spontaneously clear (get rid of) the virus and will not suffer long term effects. The other 75% will develop chronic hepatitis C. the long term effects can be quite severe:
- liver cancer
- liver scarring (cirrhosis). Scarring results when damaged tissue is repaired. If there is enough scarred tissue the liver will be less effective. Enough scarred tissue can lead to liver failure.
Getting life insurance for someone with the chronic hepatitis C used to be difficult because of the long term damage to the liver could result in liver failure. Liver failure mortality is very high at 80%.
Previously, HCV treatments were aimed at increasing the body’s own immune system to help fight the virus. So someone might have less damage, but they would not be rid of the virus. Now, however. there treatments that actually target the virus itself. The treatments can actually ‘cure’ by eliminating the virus entirely from the blood. In most cases the virus can be eliminated within 24 months. It is now possible to get preferred rates if there is no viral load, all liver functiontests are normal, and a liver biopsy show mild fibrosis.
What factors do life insurers consider in hepatitis?
- duration of the disease
- viral load
- liver function tests
- results of liver biopsy
- alcohol consumption
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