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AIDS Coverage May Be Denied

September 18, 1985

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ AIDS victims may be excluded from insurance coverage because of new legislation limiting access to virus tests results, according to one of Wisconsin’s largest insurance companies.

″If we were forced into it by the state telling us we could not even find out what a person’s condition is, we would have to consider (exclusion) of some policies,″ said George Hardy, legislative counsel for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., on Tuesday

He said he was concerned about legislation approved in July that would limit an insurance company’s access to AIDS virus tests.

″In the case of all other diseases, we’re permitted to get all the facts, but this legislation prohibits us from requiring a test to determine if they have the AIDS virus,″ he said. ″We think we can show that it’s a reliable test for insurance underwriting purposes.″

Northwestern Mutual has had 32 AIDS claims in the past two years: 15 death claims, eight premium waiver claims and nine disability claims.

Hardy has drafted language for an amendment to allow insurance companies to see the AIDS virus test results and Rep. Gervase Hephner of Chilton has drafted a proposal that would allow insurance companies to look at test results.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin, which represents 40 percent of all private group health policyholders in the state, is also considering putting a rider on its policies to exclude AIDS.

″If we had somebody get medical underwriting for an individual insurance policy, and determined they did have AIDS, we might put a rider on the policy to cover everything else but AIDS for a period of 240 to 365 days,″ said Alan Gaudynski, public relations and legislative affairs director for Blue Cross.

AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is an affliction in which the body’s immune system becomes unable to resist disease.

It is believed to be caused by an unusual virus discovered in France and the United States. Its American discoverers call it HTLV-III (for human T-cell lymphotropic virus, type three). The French call it lymphadenopathy associated virus, or LAV.

As of Sept. 2, 1985, AIDS had struck 12,932 people in the United States and claimed 6,481 lives since 1979. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta began keeping track on June 1, 1981, and traced back to 1979.

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