Life Insurance & Breathing Disorders

What To Expect with Asthma, Sleep Apnea & COPD

Life insurance companies always use two primary criteria to set the rates for life insurance policies. The first is your age at the time of the application, and the second is your current and previous health conditions.

Yes, there are insurance companies that offer products that do not take health conditions into consideration, but these products are priced significantly higher than fully-underwritten products because of the unknown health risk.

Health issues like breathing disorders can have a significant impact on your cost of life insurance but the actual condition needs to be taken into consideration. For example, an applicant with Sleep Apnea is not going to be rated as high as an applicant with COPD because Sleep Apnea is less life-threatening than COPD and can be controlled much easier.

Here are the breathing disorders that will affect your cost of life insurance.

Life Insurance and Asthma

Many people with Asthma can qualify for preferred plus rates – the best health class available.

That’s if you have seasonal (allergic) asthma or mild asthma without any recent asthma attacks. If you smoke and have asthma – expect substandard rates, which means your monthly payments will be higher.

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs and can be attributed to various events that will trigger the symptoms.

Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB)

Although exercise is certainly beneficial to one’s health, some people experience asthma symptoms that are directly related to physical exercise and other physical activity.

Allergic Asthma

Many asthma sufferers have their symptoms triggered by allergies. In fact, individuals with a family history of allergies or asthma are typically more prone to developing asthma and suffering from the associated symptoms.

Childhood Asthma

Millions of children and families are impacted by childhood asthma. Statistics show that the majority of children who suffer from asthma typically develop symptoms before the age of five. Although there is no cure, the condition can be managed with an appropriate treatment plan.

As long as your asthma is under control and there haven’t been any recent attacks, you can qualify for preferred rates.

Occupational Asthma

This form of asthma is the result of being exposed to gasses, fumes, or dust commonly found in certain workplaces.

Although asthma symptoms vary according to the type of asthma you have, the most common symptoms are:

§ Coughing (primarily in the evening)
§ Continuous wheezing
§ Shortness of breath
§ Tightness, pain, or pressure in the chest

Regardless of the type of Asthma you have, you can get very affordable rates.

It wasn’t long ago that life insurance companies would only offer “Standard” rates to those with Asthma, so if you purchased life insurance more than a few years ago and have your asthma under control, make sure you compare rates today.

Life Insurance and Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when your breathing is frequently interrupted while you are asleep. Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea that is untreated will stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping. In fact, most sleep apnea patients stop breathing hundreds of times a night.

Certainly, having your breathing disrupted this frequently results in your brain and body not getting enough oxygen which leads to many symptoms. Other factors such as smoking cigarettes and smoking marijuana can also add to the severity of sleep apnea. Some of these symptoms are extremely dangerous.

Those with Sleep Apnea can qualify for preferred rates, even if you use a CPAP machine. That doesn’t mean everyone can qualify for preferred rates – just those with recent sleep studies that show everything is under control.

There are two different kinds of sleep apnea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the more common of the two. With this condition, there is a blockage of the patient’s airway that typically occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat collapses while you are sleeping.

Fortunately, there is a rather simple treatment for individuals diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The most popular treatment is using a CPAP device that will gently force air into your airway thus stopping the collapse of the soft tissue in the back of your throat. Many patients who begin treatment with the CPAP device discover immediate relief from symptoms because they remain asleep instead of being forced to awaken constantly through the night. With other patients, it can take longer to adjust.

There are many symptoms resulting from OSA:

· Loud snoring
· Being tired and drowsy during the day
· Waking abruptly accompanied by gasping for air or choking
· Dry mouth or a sore throat or both
· Headaches during the morning
· Mood changes
· Elevated blood pressure
· Nighttime sweating
· Diminished libido

Central Sleep Apnea

Central Sleep Apnea is similar to Obstructive Sleep Apnea because your breathing is interrupted repeatedly; however, Central Sleep Apnea is the result of the patient’s brain not sending the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Although it is less common than OSA, Central Sleep Apnea affects many individuals.

The most common symptoms of Central Sleep Apnea:

o Episodes of interrupted or abnormal breathing during sleep
o Shortness of breath
o Insomnia
o Nighttime chest pain
o Difficulty in concentrating
o Snoring
o Mood changes

Treatments for Central Sleep Apnea typically include treating the underlying disorders, reduction of medications that may be causing it (like opioids), using a CPAP, ASV or BPAP device, using supplemental oxygen, or taking medications like Diamox, Theo-24, or Theochron.

Again, if you have Sleep Apnea and it’s under control – you CAN qualify for preferred rates – just enter that into the quoter on this page. If it’s not under control, choose “Standard” rates on the quoter.

Life Insurance and Emphysema (COPD)

Make no mistake, having Emphysema and COPD is considered a high risk condition to life insurance companies.

Those with emphysema and COPD can expect a minimum Table 4 health classification (for health class, choose Standard or Regular and double that rate on our quoter), IF you can qualify. It depends on your medical records, your fev1 levels, if you’re using an oxygen tank and if you’re reporting any moderate to severe complications.

Generally speaking, if you’re using an oxygen tank and have what’s considered severe emphysema or copd, you won’t qualify for traditional life insurance with a medical exam. However you will qualify with several companies for small whole life insurance policies called final expense life insurance.

Your best shot at qualifying for traditional life insurance is if you don’t smoke, have mild COPD (Stage 1 or 2) and are in generally good health otherwise.

Emphysema, which often also referred to as COPD, is a disease that involves damage to the tissue in the lungs. It is a progressive disease that is long-term and causes shortness of breath which results from the over-inflation of the alveoli (the air sacs in your lungs). People with emphysema suffer because the lung tissue involved in the exchange of gases is damaged or even destroyed.

Emphysema is more severe than sleep apnea or asthma because it considered life-threatening if not managed properly. There is no cure for Emphysema and the disease and associated symptoms will get worse over time. According to the American Lung Association, more than three million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease and it ranks as the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

Researchers report that cigarette smoking is a leading cause of emphysema and common symptoms that can be expected are:

· Shortness of breath which usually begins gradually
· Chronic coughing, especially in the early stages
· Wheezing
· Continuous fatigue
· Depression and anxiety
· Problems with sleeping
· Blue fingernail beds or blue-tinged lips
· Morning headaches because of a lack of normal oxygen

Although there is no cure for emphysema other than a lung transplant, most patients can manage their symptoms using medications which contain bronchodilators.

Life Insurance and Bronchitis

Qualifying for life insurance and bronchitis is the same as COPD above. Best case scenario is a Table 4 rating, which means you can run rates on our quoter at “Standard” (also called “Regular) and simply double those rates.

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. The disease is typically diagnosed in two distinct forms.

o Acute Bronchitis – this type of bronchitis is typically caused by a virus, bacteria, and other particles in the air that irritate the bronchial tubes. Acute bronchitis is considered a short-term illness and should not be confused with Chronic Bronchitis or COPD.

o Chronic Bronchitis – the chronic form of bronchitis is a long-term disease and is often referred to as COPD. It is usually the result of cigarette smoking, environmental factors, or other extended illness.

The symptoms of bronchitis are similar to those of emphysema and for most people and may not always be diagnosed because the symptoms subside in a shorter period of time. Treatment for acute bronchitis is typically bed rest, drink plenty of fluids, use a humidifier, and take OTC cough medicine as needed.

Since chronic bronchitis is considered COPD, the treatment for it is typically bronchodilator medications, inhaled steroids, oxygen therapy, and various pulmonary rehabilitation.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a chronic disease with no cure. The disease is typically the result of emphysema or chronic bronchitis or both. COPD progresses during the life of the patient and can be managed by using the appropriate medication based on the stage of the disease.

A pulmonologist will diagnose the stage of a patient’s COPD using a breathing test referred to as FEV1 which represents the forced expiratory volume in one second of the patient being tested. The stage of a patient’s COPD is determined by using the GOLD Staging System:

1. Mild COPD (Stage 1) – COPD is considered to be in the mild stage when the FEV1 score is 80% or more of normal.
2. Moderate COPD (Stage 2) – stage two is indicated when the FEV1 score is 50% to 80% of normal.
3. Severe COPD (Stage 3) – Severe COPD is indicated with an FEV1 between 30 and 50% of normal.
4. Very Severe COPD (Stage 4) – Very severe or end-stage COPD is indicated when the FEV1 score is lower than stage 3 OR the patient has a stage 3 FEV1 score and low oxygen levels.

Symptoms and Treatment

If your COPD is Stage 1 or Mild, you may not even notice that you have it. You are likely to experience only very mild symptoms such as occasional shortness of breath or a cough with phlegm.

At stage 2, most people notice additional coughing and mucus production and a noticeable limitation in breathing. At this stage, you should see a doctor who will likely prescribe a bronchodilator and recommend pulmonary rehabilitation.

When you reach the moderate stage or stage 3, your symptoms make it difficult to perform some of your daily tasks because of the decline in your lung function and you will likely experience fatigue during any physical activity. At this stage, your doctor will prescribe bronchodilators and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and ease your breathing.

At stage 4 or the very severe stage, your quality of life will be impacted profoundly and you will likely experience severe breathing issues which can be life-threatening. At this stage, your doctor may prescribe supplemental oxygen therapy on top of the medications that you are already taking. Also, at this point, you should be treated by a Pulmonologist who may also consider alternative therapies like cellular therapy.

How Will These Breathing Conditions Affect My Insurance Rates?

The overall impact on your life insurance rates will depend on the breathing condition you are suffering from as well as any other health conditions you may be experiencing. The rate you will be charged will also depend on the type of policy that you will qualify for.