Family members who learn of susceptibility are more likely to buy LTCI
By Allison Bell
Giving consumers access to the results of genetic tests for susceptibility to Alzheimers disease could have a noticeable effect on long term care insurance purchases and claims.
Researchers who studied the effects of testing information on 148 adult children of patients with Alzheimers found that the study participants who learned they were especially susceptible to Alzheimers were almost 6 times more likely to increase LTC insurance protection levels than the other participants were.
“If genetic testing for Alzheimers risk assessment becomes common, it could trigger adverse selection in long term care insurance,” Cathleen Zick, a professor at the University of Utah, and other colleagues on her team write in a study report published in the journal Health Affairs.
Zick and her colleagues suggest the study could drive insurers and policymakers to take another look at genetic test results that might influence the profitability of certain insurance products.
The test that Zicks team studied gives only limited information about individuals susceptibility to Alzheimers, but any major changes in Alzheimers testing and underwriting practices could lead to changes in the LTC insurance market.
Genworth Financial Inc., Richmond, Va., recently noted in an overview of the market that Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia account for about 40% of LTC insurance claim costs.
Zicks team looked at children of people with Alzheimers who were tested for the presence of the e4 version of the “Apolipoprotein E” gene.
About 24.5% of Americans have inherited an APOE e4 gene from one parent, and about 1% have inherited copies of the APOE e4 gene from both parents, according to an article by Dr. Bradley Hyman of the Massachusetts General Hospital memory disorders unit.
Scientists discovered in the early 1990s that people who have the APOE e4 gene are more likely to develop Alzheimers.
An individual who has one copy of the gene is about 2 to 3 times more likely than the average person to develop Alzheimers, and an individual with 2 copies of the gene is about 15 times more likely to develop Alzheimers, according to Zicks team.