Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in America. It is also one of the costliest, both in terms of human lives and economic impact.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, more than 30 million people in the U.S. are currently living with diabetes. In addition, 84 million adults are living with prediabetes (above normal blood sugar but not high enough to qualify as Type 2 diabetes).
With so many people afflicted with the disease, it’s not surprising that diabetes ranks as the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2015, nearly 80,000 death certificates listed diabetes as the underlying cause of death, and more than 250,000 identified it as an underlying or contributing cause of death.
From an economic standpoint, the American Diabetes Association lists the annual costs of treating diagnosed cases of diabetes in the U.S. at $327 billion. Clearly, the economic impact on the medical industry and American economy are staggering. But what about the impact on people who are living with diabetes? And not just in terms of how much they spend on treating their disease, but how it affects other aspects of their lives, such as the ability to obtain life insurance.
To find out, the John Hancock Life Insurance company commissioned a survey of people living with diabetes to discern their attitudes regarding life insurance and their knowledge of its benefits. The survey found that they:
- Recognize the benefits of having life insurance. More than eight out of 10 (81%) survey respondents agreed that life insurance can help provide for their families. In addition, 50% said that it offers peace of mind.
- Are hesitant to apply for a policy. Despite understanding the value of life insurance, many diabetes patients are reluctant to apply for a policy. About half assume they won’t qualify for life insurance, while 45% think the cost would be prohibitive.
Despite these findings, the truth is that life insurance can be accessible and affordable for most people living with diabetes. More than nine out of 10 of those diagnosed with this condition who applied to John Hancock for life insurance over a recent 18-month period were qualified to purchase a policy. Of those who qualified, 88% received a rating of standard or better.
Furthermore, three out of four survey respondents found life insurance that rewards and saves them money for healthy activities to be appealing. In this group:
- 65% believed life insurance would help them lead healthier lives
- 60% thought it would help manage their diabetes
- 52% thought they could afford life insurance
People Living With Diabetes Can Still Get Life Insurance
As the survey indicates, life insurance is readily available to most diabetics. In fact, people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can usually obtain life insurance if their diabetes has been under control for six to 12 months, assuming they don’t suffer from other contributing health risks such as smoking, coronary heart disease, obesity or uncontrolled high blood pressure. Also, most people who are insulin dependent can qualify for life insurance.
In some cases, people living with diabetes can even get life insurance without a medical exam, especially if they have Type 2 diabetes. However, foregoing the medical exam usually requires completing an extensive diabetic questionnaire. It also increases the cost of the policy because insurance companies can’t measure the applicant’s risk factors as accurately without the exam.
When applying for life insurance, honesty is always the best policy because the policy comes with a two-year contestability period. During this time, the insurance carrier can cancel a policy if they determine false information has been provided on the application. Also, if the applicant dies during the application process, false information could allow the carrier to deny payment of the death benefit to the policy beneficiary.
…But it Will Cost More
The premiums for any type of life insurance policy depend on how the insurance company rates the applicant’s risk factors. In the case of life insurance for diabetics, they determine the rating based on various health related and treatment factors, including:
- Age, height, weight and medical history
- How long since diagnosis
- Whether Type 1 or Type 2
- Glucose, blood sugar and A1C levels
- Any additional health risk factors
In general, premiums for Type 2 diabetics tend to cost less than for those with Type 1 diabetes, but it can vary according to how well-controlled the diabetes is. Premiums also tend to be higher for people who contracted diabetes at a young age.
If you have diabetes, take the following steps to find the lowest life insurance premiums:
- Seek out life insurance carriers that specialize in high-risk health factors such as diabetes, or that offer “clinical underwriting” – an evaluation process that looks at your overall health instead of only specific health risk factors, such as history of diabetes.
- Keep your diabetes under control. Eat properly, exercise, take your medications and see your doctor on a regular basis. If you’re overweight, take some pounds off. Lower A1C and glucose levels will help lower your premiums.
- Shop around and get multiple quotes from several different carriers. Then select the one that will provide the financial protection you need at a price you can afford.
The sad reality is that adults with diabetes have a much higher risk of dying from a stroke, heart attack or other conditions, especially if the diabetes is not well-managed. The good news is that people with diabetes can still provide financial protection for their spouse and family because life insurance is available to most of those living with this condition. While they may pay more than then some, the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones will be protected makes it well worth the price.