A simple blood test can predict, with 90 percent accuracy whether someone will develop Alzheimer’s disease in the next two to three years according to researchers from several medical centers in a paper published in Nature Medicine in March. But, would knowing you had a 90 percent chance of getting Alzheimer’s potentially affect long term care insurance?
Current tests for Alzheimer’s disease rely on spinal taps or PET scans, which can be expensive and potentially harmful. The new test looks for low levels of 10 lipids. Patients do not need to be showing any symptoms and so the tests could potentially give someone a heads up that something is coming. The benefit, say researchers is that those who do not show any symptoms but who might know they are likely to get the disease are more likely to participate in research projects and that would speed up the process for finding treatments for Alzheimer’s. It could also dramatically impact the cost of long term care.
It’s been over a year since I’ve written about whether or not it’s beneficial to have genetic testing for something that would provide reasons for insurance companies that sell long term care insurance to either deny coverage or raise rates. But as this article points out, just the fact that there is an inexpensive test for Alzheimer’s might be enough for insurance companies to raise rates regardless of whether or not they had access to your test results or even whether or not you were tested. Insurance companies might just assume everyone choosing to purchase insurance was likely to contract Alzheimer’s based on the fact that already more than half of long term care insurance claims are related to cognitive function.
In addition, a two to three year margin of time isn’t much but it’s likely just the tip of the iceberg. It’s far more likely that diagnostic testing will be able to predict at younger and younger ages whether or not we will eventually suffer from Alzheimer’s without providing any options for paying for that care or preventing the need for it.