Will a critical illness disqualify me for life insurance?

  • Oct-23-2015
  • Richard Reich

The best candidates for an affordable life insurance policy are individuals who are young and in good health. This does not mean, however, that anyone who has ever had a critical illness like diabetes or cancer is completely disqualified from coverage. Thanks to advances in medical treatment, many survivors of long-term illnesses are going on to live long and healthy lives. This shift in the overall health of Americans has also spurred changes to the life insurance industry. As care and outcomes improve, more people may be eligible for a life insurance policy who might not have been able to be covered before.

Martin Feldman, the CEO and president of the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE), told Bankrate.com in an interview that individuals who suffered from critical illnesses in the past should not completely rule out the idea of being able to purchase a life insurance policy.

“The rules vary greatly depending on the insurer,” Feldman told the source. “But it is now a lot easier for people with pre-existing conditions to get life insurance policies.”

Surviving and living longer

According to recent findings published in the American Journal of Public Health, Americans are living longer than they have in any point in history. The Harvard University researchers who conducted the study found that improvements to healthcare was the most important contributing factor to the increase in life expectancy. They cited the fact that an individual who suffered from a major heart attack or stroke twenty years ago would most likely have spent the rest of his or her life bedridden. This is rarely the case today, as comprehensive medical care helps former patients move on from their illnesses and live healthy lives.

Major illnesses are also identified much earlier than they once were, resulting in treatment options that are more effective. According to the National Institutes of Health, five-year survival rates of both breast and prostate cancers that are caught early are 98 percent. Forty years ago, only 75 percent of breast cancer patients survived five years, and only 69 percent of individuals with prostate cancer lived past that point.

Life insurance is based on risk. Someone who survived a critical illness in the past, but has little chance of the disease recurring in the future, may qualify for a life insurance policy comparable to one that would be issued to an otherwise healthy person.

Factors that can affect a survivor’s eligibility

If you are shopping for a life insurance policy and have recovered from a major disease, LIFE recommends that you disclose the following information to your life insurance agent:

  • Severity (stage and grade) of the illness.
  • Specific type of illness (cancer, heart disease, etc.)
  • Time elapsed since initial diagnosis and last occurrence of symptoms.
  • Whether or not you are still under the care of a physician and your treatment regimen.
  • Your current health including any residual effects of the illness.

Additionally, you should also provide your agent with any pathology reports or medical records that are relevant to your critical illness and current health. This information is necessary for him or her to be able to find a policy that will fit you.

It’s possible for critical illness survivors to secure a life insurance policy, but they must take the first step in doing research and contacting a qualified agent. For life insurance quotes, use our convenient quote generator to find out which policies you may be eligible for.

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