Dear Addy: Life Insurance

planning_ahead_dear_addyDear Addy,
I’m applying for life insurance, but I’m either ineligible or being told I have to pay three times the normal rate because I have hemophilia. Is this typical with a rare disorder, and is there anything I can do about it?
Planning Ahead

Dear Planning,
Unfortunately, as you’ve found, your health status can count against you when it comes to buying life insurance. (This is different from health insurance, where the Affordable Care Act limits the use of health status in setting health plan premiums.) There is no federal law restricting the use of health or genetic information by life insurers, and very few states limit the use of genetic information in the underwriting of life insurance. As a result, life insurers have broad leeway to refuse and/or charge higher premiums to individuals with pre-existing health conditions.
Nonetheless, some insurance options may be available! You will have to do some research, though. Life insurance experts generally recommend the following:

  • Make sure you understand the range of policies available. There are many different types of life insurance policies: they vary widely with respect to how much background information they require, levels of premiums charged, etc. Some policies allow you to disclose less information about your health (e.g., they might not require you to undergo a medical exam), but these types of policies typically cost more and offer lower returns. Make sure that you only consider policies that make sense for your financial goals and circumstances!
  • Do your research and shop around, comparing issuers as well as policy types. Be sure to get quotes from multiple insurers as different companies may take differing approaches to covering someone with your health condition(s).
  • To that end, it may make sense to work with a trustworthy independent insurance agent who will help you find and weigh options from different companies.
  • Be truthful and upfront about your health with your insurance agent and on your applications.
  • Work closely with your treating doctor: an insurance company that is considering selling you a policy will want a doctor’s report describing your condition, adherence to your treatment plan, etc.

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HFA frequently receives questions from the bleeding disorders community related to advocacy issues. The questions often impact the entire community. In an effort to reach the largest audience possible with our responses to these widely applicable questions, HFA developed “Dear Addy.” Questions submitted to this column are edited in order to protect privacy and should be considered educational only, not individual guidance.

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