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AIDS Patients and Insurance Coverage

May 01, 1988

Your April 12 article about Billy Porter and other AIDS victims ("Fight of Their Lives" by Lynn Simross and David Johnston) shows why we must resolve the growing conflict between AIDS patients and insurance carriers.

No reasonable person wants to see victims of the AIDS virus forced to spend the last months of their lives worrying about funding for their medical care. Certainly AIDS patients deserve the best treatment our society can provide.

Unfortunately, the AIDS epidemic has put a tremendous strain on our insurance and health care systems, and unless a solution is found, everyone served by these systems could soon be faced with higher premiums. To help prevent this, the insurance industry is supporting legislation to provide AIDS patients with health care coverage through a state-run risk pool, which we believe is a critical first step toward resolving the crisis.

Another AIDS-related insurance problem needs to be addressed as well. Recent studies show that an increasing number of individuals are taking out life insurance policies after testing positive for HIV anti-bodies. In a recent 18-month period, for example, New York Life paid $3.6 million on AIDS-related policies which had been in force less than two years. This practice is placing an unfair burden on current policyholders who will pay for these claims through higher premiums. The problem threatens to get worse as AIDS-related claims in the U.S. are expected to reach $60 billion by the year 2000.

The dramatic increase in AIDS-related claims underscores why insurance companies doing business in California should be permitted to test for the AIDS virus. For years, insurance companies have been allowed to test for other life-threatening diseases such as cancer and diabetes. It seems only fair that they now be allowed to test for AIDS, a right granted in every other state.

By allowing testing while creating a state-run risk pool for health coverage, all parties will be better served and protected.

STAN MACK, President

California Assn. of

Life Underwriters

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