What is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a heterogeneous group of cancers of the immune/lymph system. They are usually divided into Hodgkin’s disease and Non-Hodgkin’s disease. They behave, spread, and respond to treatment differently, so it’s important for you to know which one you have.
The underwriting of life insurance for Lymphoma also depends greatly on which type of lymphoma is diagnosed. Let’s take a look at each type:
Although Hodgkin’s lymphoma can start almost anywhere, most often it starts in lymph nodes in the upper part of the body. The most common sites are in the chest, neck, or under the arms. Hodgkin’s most often spreads through the lymph vessels from lymph node to lymph node. Rarely, late in the disease can it invade the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs or bone marrow. Men are more likely than women to be diagnosed with Hodgkin’s.
Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma accounts for more than 9 in 10 cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This classic type usually are identified by an abnormal type of B lymphocyte.
Once a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s has been made a pathology study will be made to determine what stage of cancer the Hodgkin’s is in. Here are the stages usually diagnosed.
- Stage I- involvement of a single lymph node region or organ
- Stage II- involvement of two or more regions on the same side of the diaphragm
- Stage III- Disease on both sides of the diaphragm involving lymph nodes and localized involvement of other organs.
- Stage IV- Diffuse o disseminated involvement of one or more extra-lymphatic organs such as bone marrow.
Each stage is further divided into two groups. Type A is asymptomatic and has a better prognosis. The presence of Type B symptoms (fever, weight loss, and or night sweats) in Hodgkin’s lymphoma is unfavorable.
Underwriting Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
It is important to remember that not all life insurance carriers underwriter medical conditions the same. In fact, finding the life insurance carrier that will underwrite (evaluate) your medical condition the best is the secret to finding the lowest rates.
In regards to underwriting Hodgkin’s disease through standard underwriting procedures the disease must be in remission and all therapy for the condition must have been completed.
The Stage of the disease and the time frame since the cessation of treatment will typically determine what if any offer can be made for this condition.
If their have been any recurrences in the disease during the last 10 year time frame this will usually result in a declination of an offer. After 10 years may be considered.
As mentioned above the time frame since the end of treatment will go a long way in finding an offer for coverage. In my any diagnosis of Stage I, Stage II or Stage III must have at least 12 months passed since the date of last treatment before any consideration for coverage will be made. Stage 4 is typically a 3 year time-frame since last treatment before an offer can be considered.
If there has been a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant then the companies would want to typically wait 5 years before reviewing an application.
Once this time-frame for each stage has passed this is when the real underwriting begins. Life insurance carriers that do not specialize in underwriting lymphoma would probably offer very high rates or perhaps even decline to offer no matter how much time has passed. But, for the companies that specialize in underwriting this particular type of risk their could be multiple offers available.
Again, this is where an experienced agent can help find you the best offer. They can negotiate between the carriers that specialize in this condition.
Is much less predictable than Hodgkin’s disease and has a far greater likelihood of spreading to extranodal sites. Staging is similar to that of Hodgkin’s disease, but most times the patient is already in a more advanced stage when diagnosed. There are several grades of this disease;
Low Grade, Intermediate Grade or High Grade – Low grade progresses slowly, but often is in an advanced stage when diagnosed and many individuals relapse after treatment. Intermediate and high grades of Non- Hodgkin’s have more rapid growth but are more likely to respond to chemotherapy.
Low grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is typically underwritten on an individual consideration basis. This means each applicant is looked at independently instead of by the book.
Intermediate or High Grade must be in complete remission following the cessation of therapy. Below is the typical waiting period and possible outcomes of these stages:
- Stage I- 3 year wait from end of therapy. After could be extra surcharge included on top of the standard rate.
- Stage II- 3 year wait from end of therapy. After could be extra surcharge included on top of the standard rate. Would be higher than Stage I
- Stage III, IV- 3 year wait from end of therapy. After could be extra surcharge included on top of the standard rate. Would be higher than Stage II.
Questions for underwriting
In order to properly evaluate whether an individual may have an opportunity to receive an offer for life insurance coverage, the questions below will help answer:
- Date of first diagnosis?
- Type of Lymphoma? I.E. Hodgkin’s, non-Hodgkin’s low grade, intermediate or high grade?
- Stage at first diagnosis?
- Any of the following present at initial diagnoses- Type B symptoms (sweating, fever, weight loss), any large chest tumors, elevated LDH blood test, more than one extranodal site involved?
- What type of treatment? Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery
- Date of last treatment?
- Taking any prescription medications?
- Used tobacco in last 5 years?
- Any other major health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, etc.
In addition to the questions above, it is important to know the amount of coverage desired and the type of coverage (term or whole life).
Finding affordable life insurance protection for those with lymphoma can be difficult. But, if you have an expert agent or specializes in companies that underwrite this condition the best your search can be much easier. Thanks for reading this blog. Please feel free to contact us for a free evaluation of your coverage needs. We can be reached by phone at 1-888-393-9003 or firstname.lastname@example.org