The recent federal recommendation that the entire baby boom generation undergo testing for hepatitis C begs the obvious question: what's that going to do to my chances of finding affordable health insurance, life insurance and long-term care insurance?
From a clinical perspective, the proposal from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sounds like a no-brainer. Hepatitis C, a life-threatening virus that ultimately destroys the liver, was only identified in 1989, prompting widespread screening of the U.S. blood supply starting in 1992. Prior to that, the blood-borne virus was commonly transmitted through health care practices, recreational drug use, tattooing, and even manicures and pedicures.
As a result, the CDC estimates that 2 million of the 3.2 million people infected with hep C are baby boomers, and 3 out of 4 of those don't know they have it -- or even that they could have it.
The CDC proposal, expected to be finalized this fall, aims to herd 800,000 infected boomers into treatment, a move the feds say could save as many as 120,000 lives.
For baby boomers, the news adds an unwelcome wrinkle to the already complex challenge of making their dollars stretch over the insurance they'll need in retirement.
Have you ever tried to purchase health, life or long-term care insurance with a life-threatening condition? It can be a) futile or b) very, very expensive.
Jesse Slome, the executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, summed up this new boomer bummer for MSNBC: "I would never, ever tell anybody to delay getting any kind of medical exam, but you have an advantage over the insurance company if you apply for insurance before undergoing any kind of medical checkups."
The CDC says it's aware that its findings place boomers in a quandary and plans to work with insurance companies, public health officials and others to figure out how to protect the public without in effect hindering a generation's ability to purchase or afford life or long-term care insurance.
The good news: under health care reform, you can't be denied health insurance for a pre-existing condition beginning in 2014 -- that is, if the Supreme Court upholds the "guaranteed issue" clause within the Affordable Care Act.
How would you respond if presented with this money-or-your-life proposition?
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