Hep C is the most common chronic blood borne infection in the United States. The insidious nature of the disease is such that often people will not experience symptoms for years, even decades, after they are infected. Life insurance underwriting for Hep C is a careful process and is really broken down into two parts.
The first part is the obvious. You have the disease and it was treated. What medical problems did the disease cause while you had it and what is the current status of the disease and it’s main target, the liver. Current status can be summed up with lab tests that show liver functions and the viral load. To determine potential problems that a person may have incurred from the disease it is very common for a liver ultrasound or biopsy to also be done to see what damage the liver has incurred.
The other underwriting factor is the impact of the treatment . The most common treatment today is interferon. While it is successful in reversing about 50% of Hep C cases, it’s side effects are not light weight. Along with things you might expect like fatigue, interferon can cause flu like symptoms, loss of appetite and in some case large fluctuations in blood sugars which can lead to diabetes.
From an underwriter’s point of view, better than standard rates can be given if liver functions are within the normal range and you have a negative viral load. There also should be a liver biopsy that shows little or no permanent damage to the liver. The concern is that in prolonged untreated cases, cirrhosis can be an issue.
Once the issue of the liver is hurdled, any residual effects from the treatment have to be considered. Generally there will be a waiting period after the completion of interferon treatment before a good offer can be made. The waiting period will vary depending on the level of the disease upon diagnosis, the aggressiveness of the treatment and how well your body handled the treatment.
The waiting period can be from 1 to 10 years depending on all the variables before the best possible rates can be approved. That doesn’t mean insurance can’t be obtained, but it may cost more for an interim period.
Bottom line. Know all the test results before contacting an independent agent. Actual copies of the lab and pathology reports are helpful. If, given your situation, you don’t qualify for the best possible rates right now, put what you can in force and work with your agent each year to review and try to improve on the rates until you get what you need locked in.
This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.