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Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Arthritis can take on many different forms and range in severity from mild to severe. And while some cases may be excluded, the good news is, most people suffering from arthritis will still be able to qualify for term life insurance.
It is estimated that about 70 million people in the United States suffer from arthritis in some form. Although it can affect people of any age, this health condition is much more common in people as they get older. Generally speaking, arthritis is an inflammation where bones meet, resulting in joint damage and joint pain as a common side effect.
Understanding Rheumatoid arthritis and how it affects the body
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, but there are two primary types of arthritis that insurance companies will focus on when considering whether or not to write a life insurance policy.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory arthritis and is considered an autoimmune disease. This means the immune system becomes overactive and attacks the body’s tissues, and in the case of Rheumatoid arthritis, it attacks areas where bones meet, causing pain in the joints as damage is done to both the cartilage and bones. Rheumatoid arthritis can produce a low grade inflammation throughout the entire body and also attack other parts of the body, including eyes, lungs, skin, and nerves in more pronounced bouts of inflammation. Those flare-ups can last for days or even weeks.
Other types of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering and bones start to wear out due to injuries or years of prolonged use. When that happens, the bones will start to rub together, creating swelling and pain. It can happen in just about any part of the body, but is most commonly found in the knees, hips, hands and spine. It is sometimes referred to as hypertrophic or degenerative arthritis and the intensity of pain will vary from person to person. For many, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is managed with regular physical activity and medication such as Methotrexate or prednisone. However, for some people affected by the disease, it can be particularly debilitating, making any joint movement almost impossible.
There are other types of arthritis that are fairly common as well.
Psoriatic Arthritis is similar to RA in that the immune system attacks joints, causing pain. It is found in people who have psoriasis and can affect any joint in the body.
Fibromyalgia occurs when chemicals that transmit signals between cells in the body are out of balance, leading to increased sensitivity to pain of the musculoskeletal system throughout the body. Fibromyalgia also produces general fatigue, concentration issues and changes in a person’s mood.
Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in the body. This excess uric acid can cause crystals to form in the joints. If left untreated, the crystals can form painful lumps. However, they can be treated and will go away after several days.
Except in severe cases, most kinds of arthritis can be treated with a variety of drugs and medications ranging from aspirin, Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), steroid injections, therapies that suppress the immune system, or natural remedies such as turmeric supplement.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Life Insurance
Because many forms of arthritis are mild and can be controlled with drugs, most individuals who are in overall good health will be able to qualify for term life insurance at favorable rates.
In general, life insurance companies have somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 different rate classes. Based on which rate class you are put into will partially determine what your life insurance premium will be.
People with mild cases of arthritis that only experience minor pain can expect to be classified in a preferred class or one or two steps below.
Those who have moderate cases of arthritis where there has been some damage to joints, bones and cartilage, resulting in the use of more drugs and steroids, may be placed in a medium substandard case with higher premiums.
Severe arthritis sufferers who have noticeable damage and deformities, and who have been on a drug treatment regimen for some time, may get a severe substandard rating, and in some rare cases, may be declined all together.
Medical history that life insurance underwriters will consider when reviewing your life insurance application.
- The type of arthritis you have
- Date of diagnosis
- What medications you take
- Currently completing physical therapy
- Unexpected weight loss
- How long you have been taking medications
- How your arthritis interferes with your activities of daily living
- How much pain you are in
- How well medications control your symptoms
- Whether you have any deformities due to arthritis
- What medical diagnostic tests you have completed in the past year
If you are determined to get a term life insurance policy despite an advanced case of arthritis, up to and including being on disability, one way is to accept a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. With this type of policy, you will not need to undergo any exam or answer any health related policies. These types of policies are available from multiple insurance providers that specialize in these types of health impairments.
On the other hand, if you want the best possible rate, a fully underwritten term life insurance policy will require you to submit to a physical exam. Typically, you will be examined in your home, where your blood and urine samples will be taken and studied in a lab. The insurance company will also contact your family physicians and request medical statements from them as well as reviewing your medical records. Finally, the underwriter will review your history of taking prescription drugs, documenting what you have taken in the past and what you are taking now.
Based on all of this input, the underwriter will then assess a client’s risk level and assign a rate class based on all of that information, plus the severity of a client’s arthritis.
A final word on Life Insurance and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Not every insurance company treats arthritis the same way.
Some companies have a more favorable view of people with arthritis than other insurance companies. Because the life insurance industry is so competitive, some companies will also try to carve out niches in the industry, and this is where more favorable terms toward life insurance with arthritis will be found. It’s important to work with an independent life insurance agent and do your homework because there is no standard in the industry for life insurance options.
Lastly, final expense or guaranteed issue is amongst the best life insurance coverage.