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Major insurer says it will extend life insurance to those with HIV

Life Insurance and Annuities
by Lisa Jiang
Illinois life insurance bill inching closer to law
Illinois life insurance bill inching closer to law

In years past, an HIV diagnosis was seen as a death sentence, and it immediately made life far more difficult for HIV-positive Americans in many ways. Part of that problem was that it became difficult, if not impossible, for them to obtain life insurance policies to provide a financial safety net for their loved ones. But now, that problem is slowly but surely going away, as more policy providers extend coverage to those with a positive HIV diagnosis.

Last week, one of the nation's top life insurance providers said it would join the slow but steady increase in such companies providing policies to those who have been diagnosed with HIV, according to a report from the Boston Globe. Not surprisingly, those people will have to meet certain qualification standards to buy policies, including being between the ages of 30 and 65, but the values of the policies they will be able to buy can be as high as $2 million.

More life insurers now extending coverage to HIV-positive Americans.More life insurers now extending coverage to HIV-positive Americans.

Why was the decision made?
At this point, medical advancements have, in some ways, made HIV like any other chronic disease: treatable and livable, if still largely incurable, the report said. In this way, it is similar to diabetes or some coronary issues. For that reason, this major life insurance policy provider will do what some others in the industry already have, and treat HIV like a number of other health issues which do not disqualify people with them from obtaining coverage.

"These are the same products we're offering to the rest of our customers," Susan Ghalili, the chief underwriter for the major life insurer, told the newspaper. "This is a very small step in the right direction for people who haven't been able to get life insurance. It's not that it's a big market, but it's a relevant market for us. It's an underserved market."

A growing trend
This is obviously good news for the roughly 1.2 million Americans suffering from HIV, as well as their families. Even better, it's part of an industry-wide movement, the report said. HIV advocates say said that once one life insurer made this step, it was only a matter of time before more followed suit. Right now, though, it's estimated that the market for this specific type of life coverage is somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 people with HIV. Of course, these life insurers aren't doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, but simply because the medical data associated with HIV shows that people are living longer, relatively normal lives with the disease.

Because of this, other life insurers may want to consider the benefits of making such a move as well. This may help them to tap new markets or otherwise connect with people with whom they previously had little hope of dealing with. This also provides a significant benefit to those with HIV and their families, meaning the situations will be mutually beneficial.

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