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BOLD, NEW INSURANCE PLAN ADDRESSES AIDS EPIDEMIC IN THE WORKFORCE

 CHICAGO, May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- In concert with America's new determination to meet the health care needs of all its citizens, The Amherst Group has introduced an unprecedented insurance policy designed to provide financial security and peace of mind to health care personnel and other professionals at greater risk for coming in contact with AIDS or HIV, the virus which causes AIDS.
 The disease has reached epidemic proportions in this country, affecting an estimated one in every 250 Americans, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control, and accelerating the steep rise in health care costs.
 Called HIV AssetGuard(TM), the new fixed indemnity policy is the most comprehensive to date, filling gaps not addressed by other plans, and providing up to $500,000 of coverage to people upon testing positive for the HIV virus. This is particularly significant as most life insurance policies pay a benefit only after death, and often, disability insurance will not pay a policy holder who does not show outward, physical signs of illness.
 "The average, estimated cost of treating an infected person is in excess of $60,000 annually, a staggering sum which can drive individuals into financial ruin at a time when they most need support," according to Dr. Fred Horowitz, a prominent Chicago dentist, president and co-founder of The Amherst Group. "HIV AssetGuard is specifically designed to meet such a crisis."
 Most importantly, HIV AssetGuard provides confidentiality to covered individuals. They deal directly with the insurer, never through the employer or another intermediary. Also, an infected individual need not prove how or where the infection occurred, which can be difficult if not impossible with respect to HIV. Many policies stipulate that exposure must occur on the job to receive benefits. Under HIV AssetGuard, an individual is covered regardless of where he or she became infected.
 The new insurance follows a survey conducted by The Amherst Group which asked hospital administrators whether they would be interested in AIDS coverage for their workers. "The response was overwhelmingly in favor of such a plan," according to Allan Silverberg, the other co- founder and vice president of The Amherst Group.
 "Statistics suggest as many as 45,000 people in the workforce have contracted the HIV virus, and 8,000 of them are involved with health care," said Silverberg. "This is a very big concern, particularly among young adults." Studies say most HIV infected people are between the ages of 25 and 44, the group which comprises about half of the nation's workforce.
 "The terms of this particular plan clearly demonstrate that The Amherst Group understands the issues involved, and it has dealt with them in a realistic and affordable way," according to Sandra Thurman, executive director of AID Atlanta, the oldest and one of the largest non-profit AIDS organizations in the country. "Today, more than ever before, companies owe it to their employees to take a look at HIV coverage."
 While many insurance policies are only available and affordable to large groups, the Amherst Group has devised a way to offer competitive rates to groups of individuals within a company as well as employers with a minimum of 50 personnel or 30 percent participation. In addition to employee groups and employers, HIV AssetGuard is available to applicable associations.
 "This plan is particularly attractive to us because it is comprehensive, affordable, and there is no fine print. The terms are very clear and employees have the security of knowing they will receive significant financial assistance in the event they become infected with HIV," according to Scott McCall, president of Employers Dental Services in Arizona, who is looking very seriously at the plan. "Whatever happens in Washington with health care, this coverage will be forthcoming so there are no uncertainties, and that's important," noted McCall.
 In addition to companies within the health care industry, HIV AssetGuard is also appropriate for other occupations that may be considered at higher risk for exposure to the HIV virus. In some cases, blood testing is necessary to qualify for the insurance, although this is generally left up to the discretion of the employer.
 HIV AssetGuard is an indemnity product, underwritten by the Reliable Life Insurance Company of St. Louis, and reinsured by General American Life Insurance Company of St. Louis, among the most respected insurance companies in the country. The Amherst Group, Ltd., based in Chicago, is marketing the policy which is now available in 27 states and will soon be available nationwide. Corporate headquarters for The Amherst Group are located at: 222 North LaSalle, Suite 2140, Chicago, IL 60601. The telephone number is: 800-248-5943, or in the Chicago area: 312-201-1236/
 -0- 5/12/93
 /EDITOR'S NOTE: Sources -- Centers for Disease Control (1992), Health Care Professional (December 1992)./
 /CONTACT: Lesley Gamwell of Custer Gamwell Communications, 404-432-2700, for The Amherst Group, Ltd./


CO: The Amherst Group, Ltd. ST: Illinois IN: INS HEA SU: PDT

BR-BN -- AT013 -- 7600 05/12/93 12:52 EDT
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Date:May 12, 1993
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