Skin conditions may be considerably mild compared to other long-term ailments, but they can still cause discomfort, even pain, and be a chronic medical problem. Until the Affordable Care Act comes along, people who have rosacea, acne, and rashes in recent years have a pre-existing condition and can therefore have their health insurance premiums increase, or be declined coverage completely. Skin problems can be linked to numerous causes, including genetics, some diseases and immune deficiencies, as well as allergies and irritants.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, weighing between 6 and 9 pounds, and measuring about 2 square yards. Serving as the barrier between your other organs and body parts and your surroundings, keeping such an important component healthy is crucial. If you have a condition that affects your skin, such as dermatitis, hives, or psoriasis, you are surely aware that treatment is ongoing, and takes some experimenting and medical consultation.
5 Most Common Skin Conditions
A skin disorder varying in severity, acne is caused by a clogging of the skin’s passageway between the pores and the oil glands. Oil and dead skin get into the pores, and if germs enter as well, there may be inflammation, pus and redness. Usually occurring on the face, neck, shoulders, back, and chest, acne can form as whiteheads and blackheads, which are more common and less severe, or nodular and cystic acne, which forms deep in the skin and can result in scarring. This condition affects 80 percent of people living in the United States at some point in their lives, persisting into adulthood for 60 percent.
Genetics are partially responsible for acne, but hormones are the key factor, hence most acne is experienced during the teenage years. Consuming greasy foods or chocolate can also cause acne in certain individuals, though no studies suggest this is a constant.
Acne can be controlled in a variety of ways. Dietary and lifestyle choices can help clear your skin to certain extent, and proper cleaning can also be a positive contribution. Skin products should be labeled noncomedogenic if they are formulated to not clog pores, which is a useful guideline when choosing skin products. Though many natural treatments are oil-based, most times they will not clog your pores depending on your skin type. Trying different products is often the best way to find out what works for you. Severe acne can be treated with spot creams containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or tea tree oil (an anti-fungal essential oil).
Medication may also be used to clear acne, though not always necessary. Prescription oral treatments tend to have serious side effects and can very well damage your chances of getting a normal health insurance premium.
Find out more about acne and how the condition could impact your insurability.
Eczema is an umbrella term for three main types of dermatitis, though the word itself is often used synonymously with dermatitis, originating from the Greek for “boils over.” Atopic dermatitis is the most regularly occurring form of eczema, affecting 1-3 percent of children and 10-20 percent of adults. This condition creates itchy rashes in the folds of the knees and elbows. Allergic contact dermatitis is as it sounds, caused by the skin’s allergic reaction to fragrances, metals, fabrics, and other items it may come in contact with environmentally. This type of eczema appears during adulthood. Those who have dry, itchy patches of skin that look flaky, red and round have what is called nummular dermatitis.
To treat any of these conditions, moisturizing the skin is essential. Building up your skin’s protective layers, you can reduce or eliminate any of these rashes. Taking short, warm showers instead of longer, hot ones helps your skin retain more moisture, and lowering your stress levels can also contribute to clearing your rash. Various over-the-counter treatments can be used, including hydrocortisone cream (though it can ultimately thin your skin when used at length) and antihistamines to relieve itching. Corticosteroids taken by mouth or topical steroids are also used for treatment, though they are reserved for extreme cases where other methods fail.
Seborrheic Dermatitis (Dandruff)
Differing from other forms of dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis creates oily, scaly, flaky yellow or red patches on the scalp, mostly, but can occur in other areas. It is typically inflamed and itchy in nature and may lead to blisters. When infants have seborrheic dermatitis, it is referred to as cradle cap. It is more likely to affect adult men than women, and usually occurs in adults between age 30 and 60.
Treatment of scalp dandruff usually involves a shampoo containing salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione, or selenium sulfide, used twice weekly. Shampoos containing coal tar can also be used, recommended at 3 times per week. To get dandruff under control initially, it is safe to used any of these types of shampoo daily until the condition is manageable.
For other areas of the body affected by seborrheic dermatitis, steroid creams may be prescribed. Infants with cradle cap is treated with special shampoo with a milder consistency than the adult dandruff shampoos. Beginning with a nonmedicated product is recommended, but if it ceases to work, you can ask your doctor for a prescription shampoo.
Skin cancer affects more people in the United States each year and any other form of cancer. The most common kinds are basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, which can provide an easier recovery than melanoma, the most deadly form. 75 percent of skin cancer-related deaths are caused by melanoma. Heredity can increase your risk of basal cell carcinoma, while exposure to and damage from ultraviolet light is more responsible for melanoma and squamous cell.
Learn more about skin cancer and how it affects your health insurance coverage.
Passed down through your genetic makeup, psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that creates an accumulation of thick, red excess skin with silvery scales. The elbows, knees, back, scalp, face, palms and feet are typically affected areas, though psoriasis can occur in other areas as well. Psoriasis is caused by immune system problems, and can be worsened by stress, infections, dry skin, and certain medications. Mostly adults are affected by psoriasis, starting between age 15 and 35, which occurs when skin cells growing deep in the skin are brought to the surface prematurely. This process, called cell turnover, occurs in normal skin over the course of a month. For people with this condition, the cells rise in a matter of days.
Treatment includes creams or ointments containing cortisone, anthralin or coal tar, as well as creams to eliminate the scaling which usually have lactic acid or salicylic acid. Dandruff shampoo can also be used, and staying well moisturized is also important. Vitamin A and D supplements, or medications containing these retinoids may also be taken. Severe psoriasis may be treated by prescription medications to suppress the immune system’s malfunction such as other retinoids, and biologics. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if you have an infection.
Skin Conditions and Medical Coverage
Depending on the severity of your condition, your rates for health insurance may be affected. It also varies by insurer and state underwriting guidelines. Some carriers do not accept people with acne who take a medication, and others may accept them if there is no other medical condition present and increase their premiums. If you are declined coverage, you can take your letter of rejection to the federal high risk pool (for the remaining months it is in existence) or your state’s risk pool to see if you can get a health plan. In order to enroll in the federal pool, PCIP, you must have 6 months without insurance, however.
Individuals with psoriasis are very much in need of coverage, though they can be declined quite easily for their condition. According to one insurer’s underwriting guidelines, adults who regularly rely on drugs like Humira, Methotrexate, and Amemvive, or have psoriatic arthritis will be instantly turned down, regardless of age. The same insurer rates up as much as 120 percent for psoriasis in applicants of all ages.
Milder conditions such as dermatitis or eczema can increase your premiums up to 40 percent, according to the same carrier. For those over age 65, however, no rate increases occur. Other insurance companies are typically less generous than this one in particular. Luckily for anyone with a mild to severe skin problem, these rules will change in a short few months. Underwriting guidelines will change, and any carrier will have to accept your scaly, flaky self for no more than a smooth-skinned individual.
1. Medline Plus. Skin Conditions.
2. WebMD. Acne Vulgaris.
3. Fox News. 5 Most Common Skin Disorders.
5. FamilyDoctor.org. Sebborheic Dermatitis.
6. Medline Plus. Psoriasis.