Chorea is a neurological disorder that affects movement and coordination. There are several types of chorea, but two of the most well-known are Huntington’s and Sydenham’s. Both Huntington’s and Sydenham’s are genetic disorders that can affect a person’s ability to obtain life insurance coverage.
In this article, we’ll discuss what Huntington’s and Sydenham’s chorea are, how they affect life insurance approvals, and what options are available to those with these conditions.
What is Huntington’s Chorea?
Huntington’s Chorea, also known as Huntington’s Disease, is a genetic disorder that affects the central nervous system. It is a progressive disease that leads to the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain, causing involuntary movements, emotional and cognitive problems, and eventually, the loss of mental and physical function.
There is only one type of Huntington’s Chorea, but it can present differently in each individual. The disease is classified by the age of onset, with the early-onset form of the disease occurring before the age of 20, and the adult-onset form occurring between the ages of 30 and 50.
Huntington’s Chorea is caused by a mutation in the Huntingtin gene, which provides instructions for making a protein called huntingtin. In people with Huntington’s Chorea, the gene contains an abnormal number of repeated sequences of the DNA building blocks CAG. The more CAG repeats there are, the earlier the disease onset and the more severe the symptoms. The protein produced by the mutated gene clumps together and disrupts normal cellular functions, leading to the death of nerve cells in the brain.
Huntington’s Chorea is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder, which means that a person only needs to inherit one copy of the mutated gene from either parent to develop the disease. If a parent has the mutation, there is a 50% chance that their child will inherit the mutation and develop the disease.
The symptoms of Huntington’s Chorea can vary widely from person to person, and may include:
- Involuntary movements: One of the most common symptoms of Huntington’s Chorea is the presence of involuntary, uncontrollable movements, known as chorea. These movements can be jerky or smooth, and affect different parts of the body, including the face, arms, and legs.
- Emotional and cognitive problems: Individuals with Huntington’s Chorea may experience changes in their mood, behavior, and cognitive abilities. This can include depression, anxiety, irritability, and difficulty concentrating, planning, and organizing.
- Physical and functional decline: As the disease progresses, individuals with Huntington’s Chorea may experience a decline in their physical and functional abilities, such as difficulty walking, talking, and swallowing. They may also experience weight loss and muscle wasting.
There is currently no cure for Huntington’s Chorea, but there are treatments available that can help manage the symptoms of the disease. Medications can be used to treat chorea and other movement disorders, while psychotherapy and counseling can help individuals cope with the emotional and cognitive symptoms of the disease.
Research is ongoing to develop new treatments for Huntington’s Chorea, including gene therapy, which aims to replace or repair the mutated Huntingtin gene, and stem cell therapy, which seeks to replace damaged nerve cells in the brain.
Worst Case Scenario
In the worst-case scenario, individuals with Huntington’s Chorea may experience a rapid decline in their physical and cognitive abilities, leading to the loss of their independence and quality of life. As the disease progresses, individuals may require assistance with daily activities, such as eating, dressing, and bathing. They may also experience complications such as pneumonia, choking, and falls.
What is Sydenham’s Chorea?
Sydenham’s Chorea, also known as St. Vitus’ Dance, is a rare neurological disorder that primarily affects children and adolescents. It is a type of movement disorder that is characterized by involuntary movements, emotional disturbances, and cognitive problems. Sydenham’s Chorea is the only type of Chorea that is not associated with Huntington’s disease. It is caused by an infection with group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus bacteria, which also causes strep throat and other infections.
Sydenham’s Chorea is believed to be caused by an autoimmune response to the streptococcal infection. The immune system mistakenly attacks the basal ganglia, which are a group of nerve cells in the brain that control movement and emotion.
The exact mechanism by which the immune response causes the symptoms of Sydenham’s Chorea is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve inflammation and damage to the basal ganglia.
The symptoms of Sydenham’s Chorea can vary widely, but may include:
- Involuntary movements: One of the most common symptoms of Sydenham’s Chorea is the presence of involuntary movements, which can affect different parts of the body, including the face, arms, and legs. These movements may be choreiform, meaning they are irregular, dance-like movements.
- Emotional and cognitive problems: Individuals with Sydenham’s Chorea may experience changes in their mood, behavior, and cognitive abilities. This can include emotional instability, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
- Physical and functional decline: In severe cases, individuals with Sydenham’s Chorea may experience a decline in their physical and functional abilities, such as difficulty walking, speaking, and swallowing.
The primary treatment for Sydenham’s Chorea is antibiotics to treat the underlying streptococcal infection. This can help reduce inflammation and prevent further damage to the basal ganglia.
In addition to antibiotics, medications can be used to manage the symptoms of Sydenham’s Chorea. These may include antipsychotic medications to help control the involuntary movements and mood disturbances, as well as medications to help manage any cognitive problems.
In some cases, physical therapy may also be recommended to help improve mobility and reduce the risk of falls.
Worst Case Scenario
In severe cases, Sydenham’s Chorea can lead to a decline in physical and cognitive function, which may affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities and maintain their independence. However, with appropriate treatment, the symptoms of the disease can be managed and the overall prognosis is generally good.
In rare cases, Sydenham’s Chorea may progress to a chronic movement disorder known characterized by persistent, choreiform movements and may require ongoing treatment to manage the symptoms.
How do Chorea conditions affect life insurance approvals?
When it comes to obtaining life insurance coverage, individuals with Huntington’s and Sydenham’s chorea may encounter difficulties. While it may be possible to qualify for a traditional policy, those diagnosed with chorea will likely only be able to qualify for a substandard rate, at best. This applies even to those with mild cases of chorea, and those with more severe cases may be denied traditional coverage altogether.
In such cases, alternative options, such as guaranteed issue life insurance policies, may be necessary to purchase a small final expense policy.
The reason for substandard rates or denial of coverage is due to the fact that both Huntington’s and Sydenham’s chorea are considered high-risk medical conditions by life insurance companies due to their progressive nature.
What options are available for life insurance coverage with Chorea conditions?
If you have Huntington’s or Sydenham’s chorea, it may be challenging to obtain traditional life insurance coverage. However, there are still options available that can provide coverage and peace of mind for you and your loved ones.One option is to consider guaranteed issue life insurance.
Guaranteed issue life insurance
Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of life insurance policy that is designed specifically for individuals who have difficulty obtaining traditional coverage due to medical conditions. These policies are typically easier to qualify for and require no medical underwriting, which means that the insurer will not ask any medical questions or require a medical exam.
Pros of guaranteed issue life insurance:
- Easier to qualify for: Individuals who have been denied traditional life insurance coverage due to medical conditions may still be able to obtain coverage through a guaranteed issue policy.
- No medical underwriting: These policies do not require a medical exam or medical questions, making the application process faster and less invasive.
- Immediate coverage: Once approved, coverage typically begins immediately, providing peace of mind to the insured individual and their loved ones.
- No health restrictions: Unlike traditional life insurance policies, there are no health restrictions or limitations with guaranteed issue policies.
Cons of guaranteed issue life insurance:
- Higher premiums: Guaranteed issue policies are typically more expensive than traditional coverage due to the increased risk to the insurer.
- Lower benefit amounts: The benefit amounts for guaranteed issue policies are typically lower than those for traditional policies.
- Waiting period: Some policies may have a waiting period before the full death benefit is paid out. This means that if the insured individual passes away due to natural causes during the waiting period, the death benefit will not be paid to the beneficiaries.
It’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of guaranteed issue life insurance and to explore all options when looking for life insurance coverage. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced insurance agent can help you navigate the underwriting process and find the right coverage to meet your needs.
It’s also worth considering group life insurance policies. Group life insurance policies are offered by employers or other organizations and provide coverage to a group of individuals. These policies often have lower premiums than individual policies and may not require medical underwriting. However, the coverage amount may be limited, and you may lose coverage if you leave the organization or employer.
Chorea conditions like Huntington’s and Sydenham’s can present challenges when it comes to obtaining life insurance coverage. However, there are still options available that can provide coverage and peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Whether you choose a guaranteed issue policy, or explore group coverage options, it’s important to work with an experienced insurance agent who can help you find the best policy for your unique needs.
Additionally, it’s important to consider other steps you can take to protect your financial future and provide for your loved ones, such as creating a will and exploring disability insurance options. With the right planning and support, you can ensure that your loved ones are taken care of even in the face of a chorea condition.