Can I Get Life Insurance With Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Written by Cody Marchant

One morning, Bob rolled out of bed and with his first step his feet ached. He thought through his activity for the prior day, but couldn’t think of anything that would cause soreness in his feet. 6 months prior, he had turned 40 and just figured this was the start of middle age aches and pain. Throughout the day, the pain never stopped even though he popped ibuprofen throughout the day.

The next day it was the same, then the next, then the next. It was odd enough he started worrying, and schedule a trip to his doctor. The doc noticed some swelling in his feet, and the symptoms were enough to schedule a handful of tests.

The result came back and he had early signs of rheumatoid arthritis. The thought didn’t both him at first. Arthritis was going to hit sooner or later, but then the doc explained this wasn’t normal osteoarthritis. He had an auto-immune disease.

He was anxious, but thankfully, the diagnosis was early and treatment would help. But he couldn’t help worrying about health insurance. Bob had planned on getting life insurance and now was really concerned none would be available.

That’s one fear that could be put to rest.

Life insurance is available for anyone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, but there are facts you need to know to find the most competitive products in the market.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

“RA is a systemic inflammatory disease that manifests itself in multiple joints in the body. This inflammation usually affects the lining of the joints (synovial membrane), but can also affect other organs. Medical diagnosis is required.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is not your normal irritated joints common with osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease.

The body attacks its own joints and connective tissues. Swelling and deformities in the joint can occur, and if untreated major organs can be affected.

RA usually attacks the small joints in the wrists, hands, and feet. Untreated RA can cause damage in the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

Statistics:

  • 1-2% of the US population suffers from RA. Affects 1.5 million Americans
  • 200,000 new cases are diagnosed each year
  • 67% of all cases are women
  • A small % will be disabled within 5 to years of diagnosis
  • RA can reduce life expectancy by 3 to 12 years
  • Most cases are diagnosed between ages 40 – 60

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Early symptoms can be confused general soreness and swelling we all experience, especially from heavy exercise. Here are common symptoms that should alert you to check with your doctor:

  • Tender, Warm, Swollen Joints
  • Joint Stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight Loss
  • Rheumatoid nodules. (small growths beneath the skin in places such as the elbows and hands)

RA can be difficult to diagnosis in the early stages. Because it tends to mimic other diseases, most doctors will use imaging technology and blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Levels of Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are three basic levels or stages of RA. Each stage will determine the types of coverage and rating a life insurance company will consider.

1. Mild Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Low blood counts, primarily anemia
  • Blood tests revealing rheumatoid protein factors
  • Anti-CCP found in the 60-70% range

2. Moderate Rheumatoid Arthritis

  •  Evidence of bone loss
  •   Lengthy morning stiffness
  •   Elevated sedimentation rate (sedimentation rate is a blood test that can reveal inflammatory conditions in your body).
  •   Slight weight loss
  •   Swelling in multiple joints
  •   Bone erosion due to destructive inflammation

3. Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • The disease has moved from the joints into other organs
  • You have been confined to a wheelchair
  • There is significant joint destruction
  • Extreme fatigue

Causes

While your genes don’t cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make you more susceptible to environmental factors — such as infection with certain viruses and bacteria — that may trigger the disease. – The Mayo Clinic

There are no known specific causes. Many studies point to smoking as a factor that may increase risk, primarily due to unusual immune responses. Exposure to silica and asbestos may increase risk. Obesity in women prior to age 55 is another potential contributor.

Treatments

Treatment for RA is best managed by multiple strategies. Pharmaceutical options should always accompany lifestyle changes, therapy, and even alternative treatments.

The alternatives treatments range from supplementing with fish oil, following a stretching routine, using heating pads, and practicing tai chi. In some cases, surgery may be needed to repair joints or even remove diseased synovial tissue.

What do Insurance Companies look for When Evaluating Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Life insurance underwriters evaluate a wide variety of symptoms when evaluating an RA patient.

Here are the factors life companies use:

When you were diagnosed

The younger a person is diagnosed the bigger it will impact life insurance rating.

What your diagnosis was

Has RA created any damage that would impact life expectancy? What joints are involved?

What steps you have taken since your diagnosis

Are you active or sedentary? Do you use a walker or cane or wheelchair?

What type of treatment

Do any of the treatments have serious side effects on other aspects of health?

Any other medical conditions present

Are any of the following present: weight loss, fever, anemia, heart issues, elevated liver enzymes, lung problems, kidney conditions

Whether you are a tobacco user

Quitting smoking will improve your chances of a better life rate than any other behavior change.  Even with RA, your rates can improve if it has been over 12 months since you have smoked.

How Do You Prepare for a Life Application?

The number one tip we recommended is to use an agent. Not just any agent either. Use an independent broker, not tied to one specific company, but with access to multiple companies. They can help you sort through the maze of multiple companies and guidelines.

Even though we will give you the best possible life insurance companies for RA patients, every company has slightly different underwriting rules and guidelines. Finding the best one that fits you is a research task. A great agent takes hours and weeks of research off your hands.

Other Tips

1. Visit your doctor as often as recommended

You must follow-up with the document and be meticulous with your compliance. The more compliant with treatment the more favorable you will be to the insurance company.

2. Make sure your medical records are regularly updated

This is crucial! The life insurance company will rate your application poorly if it is unable to verify the details about your diagnosis and course of treatment. Keep everything and provide more than is needed to the life company. For best possible pricing, they will require a medical exam. Medical records will help them interpret the exam results in your favor.

3. Get any other complications under control

For example, be as active as possible. Follow any recommended diet recommendations. Exercise to avoid disability and keep joints fluid. Take your medicine. Lose weight. Show progress.

These tips don’t only apply to life insurance. They apply to health insurance as well. The same questions and tip will help you find the most advantageous life insurance possible as well.

What Kind of Life Policy Can You Buy Once You’ve Been Diagnosed?

It depends. I know that’s not encouraging and to be honest is a typical insurance response, but it’s true.

When you have rheumatoid arthritis, there are at least three different actions a life company will take when they examine your application.

  1. Standard Rated Policy
  2. Table Rated Policy
  3. Declination

Most life policies have multiple classifications based on health data. The classes are preferred plus, preferred, standard plus, and standard. Standard represents the average American health condition.

Mild RA will qualify for standard rating for both term and permanent coverage.

Moderate RA will qualify for the standard classification, but be table rated. Table rated refers to levels of the surcharge the company will add to the base standard premium. You can expect an increase anywhere from 25% to 200% of the standard rate on a table rated policy.

Severe RA will cause a decline for most companies. However, this does not mean you won’t be able to obtain coverage.

If a doctor diagnoses you with severe RA, and it has begun to affect any major organs, you will only have one option–a guaranteed issue policy. Guaranteed issue policies are typically lower coverage, and more expensive than average. However, there are no medical questions and exams.

Life Insurance Rates for Those with Rheumatoid Arthritis

The rates below assume standard rates. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis will fall into this category.

These are monthly rates as well for both term and permanent policies.

Age Policy Type $100,000 Male $100,000 Female $500,000 Male $500,000 Female $1,000,000 Male $1,000,000 Female
30 30 Year Term $39 $31 $111 $96 $209 $180
30 Whole Life $200 $176 $544 $472 $1,008 $832
40 30 Year Term $49 $40 $187 $140 $322 $244
40 Whole Life $272 $232 $856 $664 $1,464 $1,160
50 30 Year Term $94 $75 $289 $209 $542 $406
50 Whole Life $550 $418 $1,386 $1,012 $2,541 $1,870
60 20 Year Term $105 $74 $445 $304 $861 $566
60 Whole Life $780 $588 $2,772 $1,800 $5,304 $3,396
70 10 Year Term $171 $130 $710 $430 $1,323 $796
70 20 Year Term $311 $255 $1,296 $1,056 $2,585 $2,032

Best Life Insurance Companies

The following companies are perfect for people with any serious health issues whether that be cancer, diabetes, or strokes.

These companies provide more lenient underwriting and competitive rates for health issues. Look for financially healthy companies as well. You can determine the financial health of a carrier by their AM Best rating.

Those ratings are provided below.

Company A.M. Best Rating Customer Satisfaction Rating
Lincoln A+ 4.1 / 5
John Hancock A+ 4.1 / 5
MetLife A+ 4.2 / 5
Banner Life A+ 4.3 / 5
AIG A 4.0 / 5
Protective A+ 4.2 / 5
Pacific Life A+ 4.0 / 5
Prudential A+ 4.1 / 5
Mutual of Omaha A+ 4.1 / 5
Transamerica A+ 4.2 / 5

Finding the Best Life Insurance Coverage for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Having rheumatoid arthritis may complicate the life insurance process, but with the right agency, you can access plenty of life products and carriers willing to insure.

Make sure you talk with an agent to help you sort out all the options.

Use our quick quote form to get a ballpark rate, and then talk with one of our agents to customize coverage for your unique needs.

About Growth 360, LLC
About Growth 360, LLC

We work with individuals across the nation to secure the best life insurance rates.

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