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Alzheimer’s, Medical Testing, & Long-Term Care Insurance

Rather extraordinary claims were recently made by researchers in a Nature Medicine article that may forever change the long-term care planning landscape.

Scientists from Georgetown University are claiming to have developed a blood test that can determine whether an individual will develop dementia symptoms within two or three years. Their findings suggest the test is 90% accurate. While few are questioning the researchers methods, it is still to early to know if the results will hold up in future studies. This initial group consisted of only 525 total participants (all over age 70), with only 28 of that group ultimately developing symptoms. More efforts are already underway to test larger groups and potentially verify the results.

While this test offers nothing in the way of a direct cure to prevent Alzheimer’s or minimize symptoms, it still may eventually lead to treatments. That is because some research argues that all previously attempted therapies failed because they were only begun after someone showed the symptoms–at which point it may have been too late. However, if this test proves accurate, then treatments can begin earlier that may actually be effective.

Long-Term Care Insurance
Beyond the specific medical importance of the testing, the ability to detect dementia years in advance can have significant effects on planning. That is because having a better idea of challenges that you may face in the future can be reflected in the specific steps taken to prepare for long-term care.

Last week, for example, Forbes published a story that suggested screening for Alzheimer’s may drastically change the way long-term care insurance is priced and/or used. That is because the insurance is based on the uncertainty of the future. All residents are advised to use long-term care insurance to ensure that support will be available, even if they end up not needing it. The costs of long-term care insurance can already be high for some (particularly for those who do not purchase it while relatively young and healthy).

But if individuals know in advance what their future is likely to hold, then it may be far harder to find affordable insurance. This is the same general problem as the ‘pre-existing condition’ issue that affected traditional health insurance.

These early advances only allow detection a few years out, and so it may not affect most long-term care insurance purchasers who do so (ideally) many years or decades before needing coverage. However, as the science advances and diagnosis occurs far earlier, then it is possible for these tests to fundamentally alter insurance and planning.

For help putting a long-term care plan in place throughout New York please contact our legal team today.

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