One of the things that is covered by health insurance is mental illness. However, when it comes to things like Alzheimer's Disease, the pay out from health insurance can never possibly last long enough.
Alzheimer's is a degenerative mental illness that can onset quickly, or slowly, and last for years. It is a desperately sad way to see your loved ones finish off their days and the extra income from health insurance will help with the necessities of life.
However, there is hope. Drugs are available to delay the onset once symptoms are beginning to show and sufferers can continue to function normally for some time. Due to be widely available this summer is a new blood test to detect the possibilities of this disease up to six years before it takes hold.
This should have the advantage of potential victims being able to implement lifestyle changes to give themselves the best chance of holding off the illness for as long as possible, such as increased exercise to increase blood flow to the brain and a healthier diet. Although there is no definitive proof that these work, some people swear by them and with 500 new cases diagnosed in the UK every day, it has to be worth trying.
It seems that money really is everything in this world though as this new test has raised concerns that health insurance companies will try to force this test on people of a certain age, thus pushing up their premiums.
The test is based on measuring proteins in the blood and can distinguish between Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Motor Neurone disease and patients will be given a score based on the laws of probability. Probability is not certainty and would it be just of the health insurance companies to impose higher costs on that basis?
Continuing the fight against this disease are the researchers at Aberdeen University who claim to have found a definite link between consuming Omega 3 oils, as found in oily fish, nuts and seeds and the onset of Alzheimer's. So the old adage that fish is brain food seems to be true and not just a ploy by your mother to get you to eat it.
Further news for those interested in developments in the field of this disease comes from the US in the form of experimental trials that are due to begin with a drug that claims to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's within minutes. The drug has so far been used to treat arthritis and during treatment for several patients it was noted with surprise that certain things happened as an apparent side effect.
Video evidence has come to light of an elderly man who was shown to be in the full throes of Alzheimer's before being injected with the drug. Within five minutes, not only was he functioning quite normally but recognised his wife for the first time in years.
It was found that levels of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) is up to twenty five times higher in the fluid surrounding the brain of Alzheimer's patients. The drug was found to bind itself to excess TNF, deactivating it. When injected directly into the spine at the base of the neck, the drug has a fast route to where it is needed and results have varied between gradual improvements after a course of treatments to virtually instant reversal. Some patients have even recovered enough to start driving again.
This drug is not yet licensed for use in the treatment of Alzheimer's and further tests are required to authenticate these claims, but the outlook is hopeful. If it wasn't for the money, of course.
Because the drug is directly injected into the spine it requires fully trained staff and there is concern that this will be an obstacle. Maybe this is where health insurance will come into play.
Insurance expert Catherine Harvey looks at the effects on health insurance of new medical developments.