Male   Female
  • If I have Hepatitis C, could I get life insurance?
  • February 28, 2013
  • life insurance coverage and Hepatitis CBy Michelle Matlock

    Risky behaviors associated with HEP C

    o Drug use and sharing needles with an infected person

    o Having unprotected sex with an infected person through breaks in the skin or the lining of the mouth

    o People who are on kidney dialysis

    o The infection can be passed on from mother to unborn child

    o Having a blood transfusion before 1992

    o Getting a tattoo or piercing with unsanitary instruments

    o Being a healthcare worker who is accidentally stuck with a dirty syringe

    o Using the razor, toothbrush or nail clippers of an infected person

    o Having hemophilia

    Source: Mayo Clinic

    Hepatitis C (HEP C, HCV) has surpassed HIV when it comes to fatality rates among adults, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One reason is because a smaller amount of blood is needed to infect a person with HCV than HIV.

    “The virus can spread whenever there is blood-to-blood contact between an infected person and non-infected person,” said Dr. Leopoldo Arosemena, a liver disease specialist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Miami. “A minimal amount of blood is necessary for transmission of the virus.”

    Arosemena adds that even people who were given medication through injections from boiled needles have a chance of becoming infected with the virus.

    “Those needles and other sharp objects in similar situations did not have any visible blood,” said Arosemena.


    HEP C is a deadly virus that infects and damages the liver, resulting in a number of diseases including cirrhosis, liver cancer and acute liver failure that can lead, in its most critical stages, to a liver transplant. According to a recent study by the CDC, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, members of the baby boomer generation (people between the ages of 47 to 67) are at a higher risk of getting HEP C.

    “Baby boomers are disproportionately affected by HCV in the U.S. and many of them were infected decades ago,” said Jennifer Ruth Horvath, spokesperson for the National  Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention at the CDC. “The reason why this group has high rates of infection is not completely understood. Many baby boomers have become infected from contaminated blood and blood products before universal precautions were adopted and widespread screening of blood supplies began in 1992.”
    can you get life insurance if you have HEP C

    Horvath adds that some baby boomers became infected due to experimentation with drug use, but it isn’t the only common mode of transmission.

    “Reaching the baby boomer population with screening is critical to slowing and stopping the serious health consequences already taking place,” said Horvath.

    While the dangers of hepatitis have been in the news for years, it should not prevent someone who has been diagnosed with the virus from buying life insurance. Unlike HIV, most life insurers will cover policyholders with hepatitis including those with HCV but it is dependent on several criteria, says Craig Davidson, Medical Director for The Hartford.

    “We would check the person’s medical history and look for elevated liver function,” said Davidson. “Once it is determined that they have Hepatitis C, we would determine how long they’ve had it and how they got it.”

    What might be revealed in the person’s medical history is that they may have indulged in risky sexual behavior when they were younger, or that they were involved in a major car accident that required a blood transfusion. Other telltale signs include a history of IV drug use or the person is a healthcare worker or someone who handles blood in their profession.

    The ABC’s of viral hepatitis

    Hepatitis A

    Spread by fecal-oral contact, including fecal-infected food and water.  In rare cases, it can be spread through blood-to-blood contact.

    Common modes of transmission:

    Poor hand-washing

    The diapers of children in daycare centers

    Sexual contact with a person infected with the virus

    Intravenous drug-use

    Note: Children are often vaccinated against this infection.

    Hepatitis B

    The virus can be mild, occurring without any noticeable symptoms. Hepatitis B is spread when blood from an infected person enters another person’s bloodstream.

    Common modes of transmission:

    Can be contracted from mother to child

    Children are commonly at-risk who live in the household of an infected person

    Adults and children who have a blood-clotting disorder

    Individuals on dialysis for kidney failure

    Individuals who participate in unprotected sex

    Intravenous drug-use

    Note: There is a vaccine for this form of hepatitis.

    Hepatitis C

    Spread primarily from contact with infected blood.  See Risky behaviors associated with Hepatitis C. (ABOVE)

    Hepatitis D

    This form of hepatitis only occurs when an individual is infected already with Hepatitis B.

    Transmission from mother to child is less common

    Note: It is also rare among children born in the United States who have been vaccinated for Hepatitis B.

    Hepatitis E

    Shares similarities with Hepatitis B. Transmission is through fecal-oral contamination.

    Often found in poorly developed countries

    Note: There isn’t a vaccine for Hepatitis E.

    Hepatitis G

    This is a new strain of blood-borne hepatitis commonly found in IV drug users, people with blood-clotting disorders and people on dialysis for renal failure.

    Note: This strain does not cause acute (sudden onset) or chronic hepatitis.

    Source: Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford

    Davidson says like most blood-borne viruses, HEP C commonly shows up in a standard blood test. In a case where the person doesn’t know they have it, they might go to the doctor feeling ill with the flu and it may be found in the lab work or the person decides to give blood and since blood is screened so closely, they might learn they have it that way. Also, a routine blood test is given to people applying for life insurance and the antibodies might be revealed then.  Medical experts say it takes up to 10 years or more for an HCV-infection to show up in a liver function test.


    It is estimated that of the 4.1 million adults in the United States who have tested positive for HCV antibodies, 3.2 million of them have a chronic HCV or Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) genotype 1. What’s worse, the CDC found that 50 to 75 percent of people infected with HCV have no idea they are living with the disease.

    “I think the prevalence is as high as it is because Chronic Hepatitis C  is a ‘silent disease’  in that symptoms often do not appear for years,” said Arosemena.  “Approximately 70 to 80 percent of people newly infected with the chronic HCV do not have any symptoms.  Many are surprised by the diagnosis. Often, I have to take a very detailed history to retrospectively find any potential risk factors and estimate the length of the infection.”


    HCV has become so prevalent that it spawned a national public health campaign “Tune Into Hep C” and its slogan “Doing nothing is not an option; talk to your doctor” is sponsored by the American Liver Foundation and pharmaceutical company Merck whose mission is to spread awareness about chronic HEP C and promote treatment and prevention of the viral infection.

    The campaign highlights the personal stories of those who have struggled with the illness or have loved ones who have been impacted by Hepatitis C,  including  three Grammy winners: singer songwriter Natalie Cole, music legend Greg Allman and recording artist and songwriter Jon Secada.

    life insurance rates and hepatitis CAllman had taken a routine physical after complaining to his doctor that he had no energy and once he received the blood results he learned that he tested positive for HEP C.  After failed treatment he had a liver transplant. Cole, found out she had HEP C in much the same way during a routine blood test in 2008.

    life insurance rates and hepatitis virus
    Cole wrote about her illness in her memoir “Love Brought Me Back” which was published in 2010. Like Allman, Cole also had to have a liver transplant. Secada lost his father, Jose, to chronic HEP C because he did not seek treatment and kept his ordeal with the disease a secret from his family. The disease was so advanced that his father died of complications associated with HEP C.

    “The perceived stigma associated with chronic Hepatitis C continues to be a barrier that seems to prevent patients from speaking with their doctors about the disease,” said Arosemena.  “I believe in general that stigma stems from a misunderstanding or lack of awareness.  Some people acquired the virus by using intravenous drugs, inhaling cocaine and so on. I think that this leads to improper generalization since a great percentage of the infected patients never used recreational drugs.”

    Pages: 1 2

  • Category: Featured Story, Life Insurance

Leave a Reply



Consumer Insurance Guide SM provides a wide selection of originally-authored articles and expert advice targeted to the self-directed insurance shopper. Our mission is to provide consumers with useful, money-saving information on all things having to do with making sound insurance purchase decisions.

Consumer Insurance Guide SM is owned by Life Quotes, Inc. 8205 South Cass Avenue, Darien, IL. For editorial, content feeds, advertising and lead purchase opportunities, contact Robert Bland, Publisher at

Life Quotes, Inc. owns and operates and, two online consumer insurance information services that cater to the needs of self-directed insurance shoppers.

About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Press Releases  |   The Best Privacy Policy  |   Life Insurance  |   Careers
For Agents & Brokers  |   Site Map  |  

Copyright ©1984-2015 Life Quotes, Inc., 8205 South Cass Avenue, Suite 102, Darien, Illinois. Life Quotes, Inc. and certain of its personnel are licensed as insurance agents, brokers or producers in all states. CA agent #0A13858, LA agent #200696, MA agent #333509159. dba Life Quotes Insurance Services in CA under agent #0827712, in LA under agent #205078. dba Life Quotes Insurance Services, Inc. in UT under agent #90093. All rights reserved. Telephone (630) 515-0170. Founded 1984.