In this article, we wanted to take a moment to answer some of the most common questions we get from folks applying for life insurance after having been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease and explain how this is different from just being diagnosed with the Sickle Cell trait.
Questions that will be addressed will include:
- Can I qualify for life insurance if I have been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease?
- Why do life insurance companies care if I have been diagnosed with the Sickle Cell Trait or Sickle Cell Disease?
- What kind of information will the insurance companies ask me or be interested in?
- What “rate” can I qualify for?
- What can I do to help ensure that I get the “best life insurance” for me?
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Can I qualify for life insurance if I have been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease and/or Sickle Cell Trait?
Whether or not you qualify for life insurance with a diagnosis of sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait will depend on the specific insurance company and the severity of your condition. Some insurance companies may be willing to offer coverage, but may charge higher premiums due to the increased risk. Others may decline to offer coverage.
It’s important to note that life insurance companies generally consider sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait to be pre-existing medical conditions. As such, you will likely need to provide detailed information about your medical history, including any treatments or medications you are taking, as part of the application process.
That said however…
It’s important to understand that having the “trait” for Sickle cell and actually being diagnosed with the disease are two separate things and will be treated significantly different from one another.
Sickle Cell Anemia defined:
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder that affects the red blood cells. It is caused by a mutation in the gene that produces hemoglobin, a protein that helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. The mutation causes the hemoglobin to form into a crescent or sickle shape, which makes the red blood cells stiff and sticky, leading to blockages in the small blood vessels.
As a result, people with sickle cell anemia can experience a range of symptoms, including severe pain, anemia, jaundice, increased risk of infections, and damage to organs such as the lungs, liver, and spleen. The severity of symptoms can vary from person to person and can be affected by factors such as age, gender, and other medical conditions.
Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder, which means that it is inherited from both parents who carry the sickle cell trait. It primarily affects people of African descent, but it can also occur in people of Hispanic, Middle Eastern, or Mediterranean ancestry.
There is no cure for sickle cell anemia, but treatments such as blood transfusions, pain management, and medication can help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Early detection and management of the disease can help improve quality of life and increase life expectancy for people with sickle cell anemia.
Sickle Cell Trait defined:
Sickle cell trait is a genetic condition in which a person carries one copy of the mutated hemoglobin gene that causes sickle cell anemia, but does not have the full-blown disease. People with sickle cell trait generally do not experience any symptoms or health problems associated with sickle cell anemia, but they can pass the trait on to their children.
Sickle cell trait is relatively common in certain populations, particularly in people of African, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean ancestry. It is estimated that about 1 in 13 African Americans has sickle cell trait.
In some cases, sickle cell trait can cause health problems, particularly in situations where the body is under stress, such as during high-altitude activities, intense physical exertion, or dehydration. In rare cases, sickle cell trait can cause a serious condition called exertional sickling, in which the body’s red blood cells break down and cause muscle damage, kidney damage, or even death.
It is important for people with sickle cell trait to be aware of their condition and to take steps to prevent complications. This may include avoiding situations that can trigger symptoms, staying well-hydrated, and getting regular check-ups to monitor for any potential health issues. Additionally, people with sickle cell trait should inform their healthcare providers and family members of their condition to ensure proper management and care.
Why do life insurance companies care if I have been diagnosed with the Sickle Cell Trait or Sickle Cell Disease?
Most top-rated life insurance companies “care” if an individual has been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease because simply put, Sickle Cell disease is a severe hereditary form of anemia, which causes one’s blood cells to become distorted into a crescent shape. As a result, patients with Sickle Cell will often experience episodes of:
- Systemic pain,
- Swelling of the hands and feet,
- Frequent infections,
- Failure to thrive (slow growth rates in children),
As well as the possibility of vision problems as well.
The problem is…
These relatively minor symptoms can then lead to bigger issues such as:
- An increased risk of stroke,
- Acute chest syndrome,
- Pulmonary hypertension,
- Organ damage,
Which is why it’s pretty understandable why a life insurance company would be a bit “hesitant” about wanting to insure someone that has been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease.
Fortunately, it has been determined that the Sickle Cell Disease is a hereditary disease linked to a recessive gene found on the 11th chromosome. This means that only individuals who inherit the Sickle Cell “trait” from both of their parents will develop this condition.
Which means that…
Carriers of only one recessive gene will be considered “carriers” of the Sickle Cell trait but will not be diagnosed with the disease. Which makes a lot of sense because the vast majority of individuals diagnosed with Sickle Cell trait won’t experience any symptoms of their genetic mutation.
The problem is…
That a lot of times folks will get a bit “confused” when talking about this disease which is why, before making any decisions about your life insurance application, most (if not all) life insurance companies are going to want to ask you a series of medical questions first designed to learn which disorder you have and then how “severe” your situation is.
What kind of information will the insurance companies ask me or be interested in?
If you have sickle cell anemia and are applying for life insurance, the insurance company will likely ask for detailed information about your medical history and current condition. This may include:
- Diagnosis: The insurance company will want to know when you were diagnosed with sickle cell anemia or simply the sickle cell trait, how it was diagnosed, and any relevant medical records.
- Symptoms: The insurance company will want to know about any symptoms you experience as a result of your condition, such as pain, fatigue, or an increased risk of infections.
- Treatments: The insurance company will want to know about any treatments you are currently receiving or have received in the past, such as medications, blood transfusions, or other therapies.
- Medical visits: The insurance company will want to know about any visits to doctors or hospitals related to your condition, including the dates and reasons for the visits.
- Other medical conditions: The insurance company may also ask about any other medical conditions you have or have had in the past, as well as your family medical history.
It’s important to be honest and accurate when providing this information, as any misrepresentation of facts could result in a denial of coverage or a void policy.
What “rate” can I qualify for?
As a life insurance agent, it’s essential to understand that there is a huge difference between being diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease and being a carrier for the Sickle Cell Trait.
Especially when trying to determine what kind of “rate” an individual might be able to qualify for.
This is because…
As someone who is just a “carrier” of the Sickle Cell Trait and not an actual “affected” individual, in theory, you should still be able to qualify for a Preferred Plus life insurance rate provided that you meet all of the other prerequisite requirements.
Or, in other words…
Having tested positive for having the Sickle Cell Trait should not have any effect on the outcome of your life insurance application provided that it does not cause you to suffer from any significant kinds of symptoms or consequences.
Quite the opposite of what you will find for those who have been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease. You see, for folks that have been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease, being able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy is going to be much more difficult.
Some folks will still be able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policies albeit at a “sub-standard” or “high-risk” rate, provided that they’re Sickle Cell Disease hasn’t caused the applicant to begin suffering from some of the more “serious” symptom associated with this disease.
This is why…
It’s almost impossible to know for sure what “kind” of a rate an individual might qualify for after having been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease without first speaking with them directly.
The good news is…
That regardless of your situation, we here at IBUSA can help because we have tons of experience helping folks with all sorts of pre-existing medical conditions like yours and are committed to helping all of our clients find the “best” life insurance policy that they can qualify for.
Which brings us to the last topic that we wanted to take a moment and discuss, which is…
What can I do to help ensure that I get the “best life insurance” for me?
If you have sickle cell anemia or sickle cell trait and you are looking to obtain the best life insurance coverage for you, here are some tips to help you along the way:
- Be honest and upfront about your medical history: When you apply for life insurance, it is important to provide complete and accurate information about your medical history, including your sickle cell diagnosis or carrier status. This will help ensure that the insurer has an accurate understanding of your health and can provide you with the most appropriate coverage.
- Work with a licensed and experienced insurance agent: An agent can help you navigate the application process and find the best policy for your needs. They can also help you understand the underwriting process and work with the insurance company to get you the most favorable coverage.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: If you have sickle cell anemia, it is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for maintaining your health, including any medication regimens, exercise plans, or dietary restrictions. By doing so, you can demonstrate to the insurance company that you are taking proactive steps to manage your condition and improve your overall health.
- Shop around: Different insurance companies have different underwriting guidelines, so it may be beneficial to shop around and compare policies from multiple providers. This can help you find the best coverage and rates for your specific situation.
- Consider a guaranteed issue policy: If you have been denied coverage or are unable to qualify for traditional life insurance due to your sickle cell diagnosis or carrier status, you may want to consider a guaranteed issue policy. These policies do not require a medical exam or underwriting, but they may have higher premiums and lower coverage limits than traditional policies.
- Consider a group life insurance policy: Some employers offer group life insurance policies to their employees, which may not require a medical exam or underwriting. This can be a good option if you have difficulty obtaining individual coverage due to your sickle cell diagnosis or carrier status.
Remember, obtaining the best life insurance coverage after a sickle cell diagnosis or carrier status may require some extra effort and research, but it is possible to find coverage that meets your needs and fits within your budget. Working with an experienced insurance agent and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can increase your chances of obtaining the most favorable coverage.
Now, will we be able to help out everyone who has been previously diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease?
No, probably not. But what we can tell you is that in addition to offering a wide variety of different term and whole life insurance policies, IBUSA has also worked very hard to establish relationships with many of the Best Final Expense Insurance Companies as well so that in the event that someone isn’t able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy, chances are there may be some other “type” of product that you CAN qualify for.
So, if you’re ready to see what options might be available to you, just give us a call!