Life Insurance for Someone with Emphysema
If you or someone you know is attempting to purchase life insurance when they have emphysema, you’ll likely hear about the challenges that must be overcome during the underwriting process. Emphysema is a dangerous condition to manage but getting affordable life insurance for someone with emphysema is not impossible.
What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is a long-term, developing illness of the lungs that basically produces shortness of breath because of over-inflation of the air sacs in the lungs (alveoli). In men and women with emphysema, the lung tissue involved with the exchange of gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) is damaged or destroyed.
Emphysema is contained in a cluster of diseases called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema is referred to as an obstructive lung disease mainly because airflow on exhalation is slowed down or halted due to over-inflated alveoli that do not trade gases when an individual breathes because of minimal or no movement of gases out of the individual’s alveoli.
What are the Symptoms of Emphysema?
The primary symptom of Emphysema is shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. For some emphysema patients, it can take several years to experience these symptoms and so they are typically unaware that they are developing the condition until it begins to interfere with daily activities. The condition will, however, progress to the point that the patient experiences shortness of breath even while at rest. Individuals who are experiencing the following symptoms should seek medical attention:
- You cannot climb stairs because of difficulty breathing during and after.
- Your fingernails or lips turn a bluish color when you exert yourself.
- You feel scatter-brained or not mentally alert.
What Causes Emphysema?
Typically the primary cause of emphysema is long-term exposure to irritants in the air, such as:
- Tobacco smoke (primary or secondary)
- Smoke from Marijuana
- Pollution and irritating particles in the air
- Chemical dust and fumes
Occasionally emphysema can be the result of an inherited deficiency of a particular protein that protects the air tubes and lung tissue. This protein is known as alpha 1 antitrypsin.
What is a typical Treatment for Emphysema?
Like other types of COPD diseases, emphysema is a progressive illness, and the treatment you’ll receive will be based on the stage of the illness. Typical medications that are prescribed include:
- Antibiotics: If a patient develops a bacterial infection such as acute bronchitis or pneumonia, antibiotics are the most likely medication prescribed.
- Bronchodilators: Bronchodilators will typically help with relieving shortness of breath or persistent coughing by relaxing the constricted airways.
- Inhaled Steroids: Corticosteroids that are inhaled by the patient can reduce the inflammation in the lungs and help relieve shortness of breath.
- Oxygen: Patients whose emphysema has reached the “severe” stage will generally suffer from low oxygen levels and will require supplemental oxygen when they exert themselves or even throughout the day.
- Transplant: Emphysema patients with severe lung damage that have exhausted all other options will likely need a lung transplant.
How will Emphysema affect My Life Insurance Rates?
Anytime an individual applies for life insurance with emphysema, the rates for the coverage can vary, dependant on certain conditions. With any kind of life insurance coverage, some of the key considerations that will establish the coverage cost is the amount of coverage and the type of policy that you are applying for. Other considerations will also include your age, your gender, and your overall health and health history.
Even if you are otherwise healthy and have emphysema, and your condition appears well controlled or managed, then it may be possible to get a Standard rate on your policy. This suggests that the underwriters consider your health to be in line with other average policyholders who are your same age and gender.
Nevertheless, if it is concluded that your health is not as good as an average policyholder, you might be assigned a substandard rating on your policy the premium will be much higher.
What can I do if I don’t qualify for Traditional Life Insurance?
Certainly, to receive the lowest insurance rates, you’ll need to qualify for traditional life insurance. Unfortunately, for applicants with a history of emphysema, this is typically not the case. There are alternatives, however, if you choose an experienced independent agent who has a history of successfully placing high-risk cases.
Agencies like Life Policy Shopper have partnered with insurance carriers who offer no medical exam life insurance and take a more liberal stance when it comes to COPD related illnesses. These agents typically represent multiple life insurance companies that are willing to accept high-risk cases when other companies typically give an automatic decline to high-risk applicants.
Agents who are experienced with placing high-risk cases are also more likely to put forth the effort needed to present their high-risk client in the most positive manner possible. They shop your coverage with multiple carriers and are typically intimately familiar with the companies who are likely to offer coverage at affordable rates. With independent agents who pursue writing life insurance for someone with emphysema, it’s all about choosing a carrier with the most liberal underwriting guidelines for each particular health condition.
When all else Fails
For applicants who are in the latter stages of emphysema, and who are required to have supplemental oxygen throughout the day, there is an alternative when all else fails. There are many insurance carriers that offer “guaranteed issue” life insurance coverage with absolutely no medical questions or requirement for an exam or blood test.
As long as the applicant is willing to accept a two-year waiting period, higher rates, and a lower face amount, applicants who have failed to get life insurance elsewhere will qualify for coverage. Some life insurance, even at a higher cost, is better than no life insurance and leaving final expense costs to surviving loved ones.
Article contributed by Terry Biddle over at Virginia Senior Benefits and Family Care powered by: http://lifepolicyshopper.com