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What is Hemochromatosis?

Hemochromatosis is a condition where the body has too much iron, also referred to as iron overload. There are two main types of the condition, including primary and secondary hemochromatosis. Primary, or Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HHC) is a genetic disorder which is passed down through relatives and begins at birth. Individuals who have this condition absorb too much iron through their digestive tract, and the excess iron is stored in the organs, mostly the liver, heart, and pancreas. The storage of iron ultimately damages these organs for those who have hereditary hemochromatosis, which can lead to cancer, heart problems, and liver disease.

Secondary hemochromatosis is acquired by having another blood-related disorder such as anemia, or a receiving a number of blood transfusions. It also may occurs in individuals with alcoholism or other health conditions. Juvenile and neonatal hemochromatosis are also forms of this condition. Juvenile hemochromatosis is a severe iron overload in adolescents and young adults between age 15 and 30, leading to liver and heart disease. The neonatal type acts quickly and accumulates in an infant’s liver, and can result in death.


Symptoms and Outcomes

Symptoms and warnings of hereditary hemochromatosis generally appear in a person’s 40s and 50s, though they may reveal themselves earlier. These symptoms may include joint pain, fatigue, abdominal pain, generalized darkening of skin color, loss of body hair, weight loss, or impotence. With such broad symptoms, a hereditary iron overload can be somewhat difficult to diagnose, though it can be treated by removing blood from the body to lower its iron levels.

HHC appears to occur significantly more often in men than women, though both are affected. If the disease goes untreated, it may escalate into liver cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cirrhosis of the liver, infertility and premature birth in women, impotence in men, and bronze skin menopause.



There are a variety of ways to get an iron overload disease under control, which includes general health and wellness, in addition to a few precautions and treatments.

  • Routine exams: Receive tests for iron in your blood on a frequent basis.
  • Phlebotomy: As needed, have blood removed in order to prevent the disease from worsening.
  • Dietary adjustments: Eating raw fish or shellfish is harmful to people with an iron overload. Cooking eliminates germs that can have a negative affect on those with hemochromatosis.
  • Alcohol intake: Those who decide to drink alcohol with this condition should drink very little. Women should have no more than one drink per day, and men should have no more than two. If you have liver damage, however, you obviously should not consume any alcohol.
  • Iron supplements: Avoid taking pills, supplements, or multivitamins containing iron, though eating foods that have iron is acceptable.
  • Vitamin C: As this vitamin raises the level of iron your body absorbs, you should not take more than 500 mg of Vitamin C per day. Consuming foods with vitamin C will not cause any harm.
  • Physical activity: Staying active and exercising is recommended for everyone, including individuals diagnosed with hemochromatosis. At least 30 minutes of exercise daily is the suggested amount of exercise from the Centers for Disease Control.


How the Condition Affects Insurability

Though the condition may lead to more serious, even life threatening conditions, it is not in most cases a declinable condition. Therefore, if you suspect any symptoms or are aware of being diagnosed with the disease, health insurance is necessary and not off limits. Insurers have specific lists of conditions they decline with no further discussion, most of which are life-threatening or could be potentially. Although this disease can lead to life threatening illness if untreated, hemochromatosis does not make the cut for many declinable conditions lists. If you do not have coverage already you will not be turned away, and it is a perfect time to apply.

Catching this condition in its early stages, as with all illnesses, is the best way to make sure you live longer and maintain a normal quality of life. Having health insurance coverage incredibly important when you know you have a condition requiring routine check-ups, mild procedures, and constant monitoring. Though you can become healthy and live normally with HHC, it is only through continuous treatment and taking all the right measures. Being insured will greatly assist with the costs of exams, phlebotomies, and checking in with a physician.

All health insurance companies operate differently, though many do not decline individuals with this condition. In turn, hemochromatosis is also not a condition considered for automatic approval with PCIP. To qualify for government-funded pre-existing condition coverage, you must be rejected by an insurer, or have a certain condition. HHC is not usually featured on these lists, as they correspond with the declinable conditions decided upon by insurers. So before you think PCIP is for you, check to make sure you can get a private plan, because you may be approved in certain states.

According to our sample Declinable Conditions list from an insurer in Florida, it is worth declining. But this is not true for every carrier’s underwriting guidelines. All underwriting guidelines vary from one company to another and by state. Apply regardless, it will be worth the time to get yourself taken care of and your condition under control. Medical history is not covered in receiving an online quote. If you have HHC, you can find out more about insurability in your state by speaking with one of our agents at 888 803 5917.