People with HIV Still Face Barriers When Trying to Access Insurance

In Individual, Industry News by PCH Staff

People living with HIV face barriers when it comes to securing both protection and general insurance because of their illness, despite the fact that huge advances have been made in treating HIV in recent times.

According to a major new report from the National Aids Trust (NAT), as many as one in four (25%) individuals with HIV have been refused a financial product or quoted an unaffordable premium in the last five years.

Furthermore, many financial products, including income protection insurance and critical illness cover, remain completely unavailable to people with HIV.

While improvements in availability have occurred (from the 1980s up until the early 2000s, it was virtually impossible for someone with HIV to get any kind of insurance at all), barriers to adoption still remain for people living with HIV today.

For example, people living with HIV often find it difficult to navigate an insurance market that predominantly caters for standard customers. Only three in 10 said they knew where to look for HIV-inclusive financial products.

Moreover, negative experiences have led three in five people living with HIV to avoid applying for financial products all together. Such self-exclusion is mainly due to fears of refusal, stigma and higher costs.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT, said: “Most people diagnosed with HIV today can expect to live a healthy life with a normal life expectancy; their long-term financial security is as important as anyone else’s. Given the dramatic improvements in the health of people living with HIV since effective treatment, we question whether substantially higher insurance premiums (or total exclusion from a product) are necessary or appropriate”.

A better outlook than ever before

The reality is that the long-term outlooks for people living with HIV are now better than ever. Just last month, it was revealed that a child in South Africa had been “virtually cleared” of the disease.

Research published earlier this year shows that young people who are getting the latest HIV drugs now have “near-normal” life expectancies, with twenty-year-olds who started antiretroviral therapy in 2010 projected to live 10 years longer than those first using it back in 1996.

The key to a long and healthy life, doctors say, is starting treatment early. The problem, though, is that many people – particularly in the developing world – are unaware they have the virus.

However, while HIV is often treated as a special case because of the prejudices people living with the condition face on top of the medical challenges, some financial advisers have expressed concern that individuals with other long-term conditions face unfair exclusion from certain insurance products.

There are people who make full recoveries from illnesses that are often serious and life-threatening. But many insurance companies have yet to update their policies on pre-existing conditions and underwriting processes.

So, like people living with HIV, individuals who have been given the all clear from another serious medical condition often face insurance discrimination, even though they may go on to live otherwise healthy, long lives.

This shows that although the majority of providers still exclude HIV sufferers from purchasing these products, there are some providers who are prepared to offer terms.

By working with a totally independent intermediary like PCG, we can visit all providers in the market to see which of them are prepared to offer terms, so offering these people the opportunity to purchase the cover they need.

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