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HIV and Insurance

To meet the demands of the public and to correspond with the contemporary medical statistics, insurance industry now begins to offer more adequate insurance services to HIV-positive US residents. Fortunately, it has become possible to extend the lives of individuals with HIV thanks to the increasing effectiveness of AIDS medication, introduction of the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), advancements in technologies and continuous medical research. HIV is more likely to be regarded as a manageable chronic condition, which brings some insurance companies to provide nearly the same level of insurance for people with HIV as they do for everyone else. At least, more and more insurers recognize the necessity to consider life coverage under specific conditions and acknowledge that HIV and insurance are no longer mutually exclusive.

The premiums of people with HIV are affected by the same variables that affect a healthy individual's life insurance rates, i.e. the age, gender, smoking history, etc. The rates are normally set higher for HIV-positive people than for healthy applicants, but they are likely to be adjusted as soon as new successful medical advances in this area prove to be effective.

At present, a HIV-positive person's eligibility for the insurance depends on the following criteria: their age, their ability to work and lead an active life, their medical condition and the manner in which such individual contracts the virus. Those who contract the virus through sexual contact or by an accidental needle stick are regarded as lower risk groups than intravenous drug users, for instance. A potential policyholder must be aged between 21 and 49 years old and have a limited amount of the virus within their bloodstream.

The most accessible way to get Life and Disability coverage for HIV-positive people is to obtain Group Life Insurance as part of an employee group at their full-time work. According to the Federal law, individuals with HIV have the right to access the same insurance coverage which is provided to healthy employees. Unlike Insurance plans, Large Group Plans rarely exclude people with serious illnesses. Most employers with over 15 employees offer a basic amount of Life Insurance, but in case you are HIV positive, they are likely to refuse to provide you with extra insurance.

In case you fail to obtain insurance through work, you can opt for an individual policy. Most insurance companies will ask you questions about your health; have you examined or even take your blood sample. However, in some states, HIV positive individuals can purchase small amounts on a "guaranteed issue" basis from "special risk" or "impaired risk" brokers. Private disability policies tend to be more liberal in giving the disability benefits to HIV-positive people. In many states, you will find special high-risk pools for uninsurable individuals. Check with your state insurance department and ask an insurance broker for a referral to such type of Life Insurance in your state. Remember that you may be subject to a waiting period for coverage of your pre-existing conditions.

Travel Insurance may also be difficult to obtain for individuals with a pre-existing medical condition such as HIV. Travel Insurance policies often withdraw certain medical and emergency benefits or exclude people with AIDS and HIV altogether. It is necessary to examine the terms and conditions of your policy, paying special attention to any pre-existing condition clauses. In case the conditions are declared in advance and thoroughly discussed with the insurer, a few Travel policies may provide specific HIV/AIDS inclusion clauses. Such policies cost more than standard premium rates. Depending on the situation, potential policyholders with HIV may be offered single trip coverage or annual trip insurance to have medical cover while they are abroad. It is important to include the needs of people with HIV in insurance coverage plans as one of the steps towards a more tolerant society.

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