The percentage of applications we have received from those with Diabetes Type 2 has increased significantly over the past few years. My first thought was that maybe more people with this disease are applying for life insurance than they had previously. However, upon further study and investigation, I found that this disease has reached epidemic proportions in this country.
More than eight percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 25% of these people have not received formal diagnoses and another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes. Spending associated with diabetes is approximately $245 billion annually.
Last year, the United Nations, in an effort to slow the growth of this epidemic, adopted a declaration addressing the economic and social burdens of this chronic disease. To highlight how serious this epidemic has become worldwide, it’s important to note that the only other time the U.N. has drawn attention to a health crisis was when the spread of AIDS turned into a global epidemic.
Unhealthy diet and lack of exercise, aside from genetic predisposition, are the main culprits here. According to Dr. Deneen Vojta, Executive VP and Chief Clinical Officer of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (sponsored by the United Health Group), says, “One study showed that people in the U.S. today have access to 1,000 more calories per day than they did in 1975. We don’t eat all those calories, but we eat a lot of them. The flip side is that our day-to-day activity is much lower. The ins-food-and the outs-activity-are unmatched.”
It has been my experience as a life insurance broker that those who have brought this disease under control have done so with lifestyle changes, primarily with diet and exercise. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most people, as diet and exercise are often recommended to get other issues under control, notably blood pressure and high cholesterol. Research shows that, with moderate exercise and a five percent drop in body weight, people with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by 58%.
The skyrocketing healthcare costs associated with this disease have prompted health insurance companies to take a proactive stance. Many, including the United Health Group (UHG)., have created programs to work with those with diabetes and those who are pre-diabetic to make lifestyle changes that help to lessen the effects of the disease. UHG, for example, has a year-long coaching program, followed by monthly maintenance sessions, that help people make these lifestyle changes. There’s no charge for the program, as UHG knows very well that this program helps to lower healthcare costs for those with this disease.
Regarding life insurance for those with diabetes type 2, the good news is that underwriters pay close attention to how well the applicant is controlling the disease, particularly with lifestyle changes and often reward these folks with lower rates than those who don’t apply these lifestyle changes.