Ever play the game, “Fortunately, Unfortunately”?
It’s an amusing two-player game originating in the 1980s.
Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party. Unfortunately, the party was a 1,000 miles away. -Fortunately, Remy Charlip
The word-play works well for term life insurance and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Fortunately, you can purchase term life insurance when you have rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, your RA can make the process complicated.
Let’s break it down into the key features you need to know in order to make an informed decision:
Rheumatoid Arthritis Essential Facts
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition also can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. – The Mayo Clinic
RA By The Numbers:
- 67% of those diagnosed with RA are female
- 33% of individuals with RA are forced to leave the workforce due to disability
- 80% are between the ages of 35 – 50 when diagnosed with RA
- 1.5 million individuals living in the United States have RA
Symptoms Of RA
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary with each person and can, at times, appear vague and confusing. Overall, there are some key factors to look for:
- Tender, swollen joints
- Stiff joints, especially in the morning
- Low-grade fever
- Loss of appetite
- Other: muscle aches, dry eyes, anemia, shortness of breath, nodules under skin in bony areas
Risk Factors For RA
While the causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not fully understood, the Arthritis Foundation describes some components that increase your risk for developing RA:
- Genetic – specific genetic markers (HLA) increase your chances of developing RA
- Gender – females are up to three times more likely to be diagnosed with RA
- Lifestyle – cigarette smoking increases your risk for RA
- Environmental – exposure to smoke, pollution, insecticides, and other occupational chemicals (mineral oil, silica) may increase your risk
Treatments For RA
- NSAIDS – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen) are available over the counter or by prescription. They are used to control pain and swelling.
- Steroids – corticosteroid medications (prednisone, prednisolone, methyprednisolone) are fast-acting anti-inflammatory drugs used to quickly get symptoms under control. Rheumatologists often recommend short-term use of steroids due to long-term use side effects.
- DMARDS – disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (methotrexate, hydroxycholorquine, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, cyclophosphamide, azathioprine) work to alter the disease course. DMARDS modify the immune system’s response to inflammation.
- Biologics – are a subset of DMARDS. Biologics (etanercept, adalimumab, infliximab) are genetically engineered medications that control immune response. Biologics target specific parts of the immune system for a controlled, specific approach to inflammation.
Additional Treatments For RA
- Anti-inflammatory Diet – research has shown that eating a healthy diet that lowers inflammation in your body and is associated with fewer RA symptoms. Anti-inflammatory foods include cold-water fish, colorful vegetables and fruits, legumes, and olive oil.
- Acupuncture – involves strategically placing tiny needles under one’s skin to alleviate symptoms of pain. Peer-reviewed studies show a correlation between acupuncture and fewer RA symptoms.
- Exercise – regular low-impact exercise strengthens muscles around joints, and improves heart and circulatory health.
- Heat or Cold – heat can reduce pain in muscles. Cold reduces muscle spasms and has a numbing effect on pain.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Classified
Each person’s experience with RA is unique, but generally there are three courses that rheumatoid arthritis is placed into.
- Monocyclic – only one episode of inflammatory arthritis. Disease ends within 2-5 years of initial diagnosis.
- Also known as remissive rheumatoid arthritis
- Often occurs with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment
- Men experience Monocyclic RA more often
- More common in patients who tested positive for a rheumatoid factor
- Polycyclic – fluctuating levels of disease symptoms.
- Sometimes called intermittent rheumatoid arthritis
- Most common type of RA
- RA symptoms consistently reappear, but at different degrees and times
- Possible to go for long periods without symptoms
- Progressive – RA disease progression continually worsens
- Least common type of RA
- Occurs in patients with most joint involvement at initial diagnosis
- Disability is frequent
- Additional physical symptoms appear, including organ (lungs, heart) inflammation
To be sure, your personal experience with RA can vary greatly, even within each of the courses.
Your ability to be approved and how much you’re charged for life insurance is impacted by your RA course. Let’s look at the three primary categories of underwriting approval for life insurance and how different RA courses could be assigned:
- Preferred – limited to those in excellent health. You are charged less for life insurance than Standard approval. Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis precludes you from Preferred rates.
- Standard – includes individuals in average health. Standard rate approval is the best-case scenario for RA. (Monocyclic and mild Polycyclic RA can fall into this category.)
- Rated – often for individuals in less than average (or poor) health. Rated approval means that you are still approved for life insurance, but will have a surcharge on your premiums of somewhere between 20-200%. Rated approval happens often for rheumatoid arthritis. (Moderate Polycyclic and mild Progressive RA can fall into this category.)
Note: Sometimes a person with rheumatoid arthritis is declined life insurance. Not to worry. There are always life insurance options. We’ve created a comprehensive article on the next steps to take if you’ve been declined life insurance.
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Its Effects On The Cost Of Life Insurance
Life insurance underwriters will want to know six primary pieces of information about your RA to help assess how much they will charge you:
- Date of diagnosis – the longer you have had RA, the greater the chance for joint damage or other negative effects from longterm inflammation.
- Duration and frequency of flareups – how often your RA flareups occur increases inflammation in your body.
- Deformity from RA – any deformity (toe, finger) negatively impacts your life insurance rating.
- Disability from RA – the inability to work or live independently negatively impacts your life insurance rating.
- Parts of the body affected – underwriters will want to know what joints are affected and wether or not there’s organ involvement (heart. lungs).
- Medications – the type of medication you are prescribed by your rheumatologist and how often you take it affects life insurance.
Be prepared to efficiently communicate those six items for underwriting to process an application quickly.
In addition to RA, there are a number of additional factors that affect the cost of life insurance:
- Age – the younger you are, the less expensive life insurance will be
- Gender – females are charged less for life insurance
- Lifestyle – risky hobbies (i.e. scuba diving) or lifestyle choices (i.e. drug use) increase the cost of life insurance
- Tobacco use – cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and cigars increase the cost of life insurance
- Overall health – in addition to rheumatoid arthritis, underwriters will want to know if you have a history of:
- Heart disease
- Other major illness
- Family medical history – you will be asked if close family members have a history of major medical conditions
- Occupation – some dangerous jobs (i.e. logger, commercial fisher, truck driver, miner, farmer, police officer, power line workers) require a second-glance from underwriters
Sample Rheumatoid Arthritis Life Insurance Quotes
Let’s look at a few sample quotes. Keep in mind they are for informational and comparison purposes only. Individual quotes will vary.
1. 30 year old healthy female with mild rheumatoid arthritis. Non-tobacco. 20 year term life insurance policy for $500,000. She qualifies for Standard rates.
2. 40 old female in slightly compromised health with rheumatoid arthritis. Tobacco user. 20 year term policy for $500,000. She qualifies for Rated (Table 1) Tobacco life insurance rates.
3. 50 year old healthy male with mild rheumatoid arthritis. Non-tobacco. 20 year term policy for $500,000. He qualifies for Standard rates.
For a personalized quote, it’s important to contact us.
While purchasing life insurance is about as fun as a slow internet connection, it’s the right thing to do.
Truth – if you have loved ones that would suffer financially should you pass away, you need life insurance.
Important – we’re independent.
An independent life insurance agent is not held captive to a particular carrier. This is crucial. Independent agents have access to the top-rated life insurance companies and have your best interest at heart.
Not all life insurance carriers view risks in the same light. Your rheumatoid arthritis might be approved with one company, even though it was declined with another.
By partnering with an independent agent who has authoritative knowledge of RA, you will be offered the best policy you qualify for at the most competitive price.
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