Here is a revolutionary piece of news about Alzheimer’s Disease that you won’t forget anytime soon.
According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, a team of researchers at Georgetown University have developed a simple blood test which they say can predict, with 90 percent accuracy, whether an individual will develop Alzheimer’s Disease within 2-3 years.
If larger studies uphold the results, the test could fill a major gap in strategies to combat brain degeneration, which is thought to show symptoms only at a stage when it too late to treat effectively.
Currently, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Several promising therapies have been tested in clinical trials over the last few years, but all have failed. However, those trials involved people who had already developed symptoms. Many neuroscientists fear that any benefits of a treatment would be missed in such a study, because it could be impossible to halt the disease once it has manifested in such a severe manner.
The implementation of biomarkers would allow patients to be identified – and recruited into trials – way before their symptoms begin, allowing for a better analysis of potential therapies.
While this is obviously very good news for the over 35 million people worldwide who develop Alzheimer’s disease each year, it may present an unintended consequence: It could destroy private long-term care insurance and any future voluntary government insurance program. A widely available test to predict Alzheimer’s would make any form of voluntary long-term care insurance virtually impossible.
Those scoring positive on the tests will immediate purchase long-term care insurance, eventually overwhelming the system when they become affected. Should insurers get access to the test results, they will either deny coverage or charge significantly higher premiums.
Currently, more than half of all LTC insurance claims are for cognitive impairment. Surveys show that those who think they are going to contract Alzheimer’s are far more likely to buy than those who don’t.
So the dilemma now deepens.
What happens to those who learn, through this new blood test, they are fated to suffer cognitive impairment with no recognized cure? As a consequence of that knowledge, will they potentially lose access to the only lifeline available to pay for what will prove to be very costly care? What other unseen consequences will arise as a result of this wondrous Alzheimer’s blood test breakthrough?
These are all questions worth asking. Even if we don’t have the answers yet.