What is hemochromatosis?
Hemochromatosis is an iron-storage disorder where there is an in increase in iron absorption from the intestine and deposits of the iron in tissues. This article will attempt to give you information about the damages, diagnosis, treatments of hemochromatosis and how to find if life insurance is available.
Damage from hemochromatosis
Iron deposition causes damage, scarring(fibrosis) and/or failure of the organs, especially the liver, pancreas, heart, and pituitary gland. The liver is usually the first organ involved. Of symptomatic patients with hemochromatosis, there is liver enlargement in 95%, increased skin pigmentation (bronzing) in 90%, diabetes in 65%, joint abnormality in 25% to 50%, heart involvement in 15% (most common manifestation is congestive heart failure), loss of libid0, and testicular atrophy.
Diagnosis of hemochromatosis
The diagnosis of hemochromatosis can be made when the above conditions are present. However, iron overload of short duration or of modest degree may exist without any of the clinical manifestations noted above or with only some of them.
Demonstration of excessive iron can be done by measuring the iron level in the blood along with its ferritin level (a protein in the blood that carries iron), by doing a CT scan of the liver, or by a liver biopsy. Biopsy is the definitive test.
Treatment of hemochromatosis
Treatment of hemochromatosis is involves removal of the excess body iron and supportive treatment of damaged organs. Iron is best removed by phlebotomy (removing blood) of a pint once or twice a week. Chelating agents (chemicals that remove minerals from the blood) that are taken orally are less effective.
Adequate treatement and follow-up increase the 5 year survival rate from 33% to 89%.
Underwriting life insurance for hemochromatosis
Life insurance underwriters typically worry about liver failure, liver cancer and cardiac failure for individuals who have hemochromatosis. The key with finding the best life insurance rate is to understand that every life insurance carrier looks at health and lifestyle differently. What one company may see as an automatic decline, another company may be willing to offer a policy.
Below is a list of questions that an underwriting carrier would want to know when evaluating the risk for hemochromatosis:
- Date of diagnosis?
- What organs are involved? I.E. liver, pancreas, joints, heart, pitutuary
- When was the last phlebotomy treatment?
- Was a liver biopsy done?
- If available, provide the most recent serum ferritin result?
- Are you currently taking any medications? If so, what?
- Have you used any tobacco products in last 5 years?
- Any other major health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, etc.?
Any addition to the medical information mentioned above, it will also be important to know how much protection is required and what type of plan are you looking for? (Term or whole life)
How your agent can help get the best rates?
In today’s competitive life insurance arena it’s more important than ever to have an agent working for you that has experience and knowledge working in the special risk market.
Many life insurance agents have no idea how to properly handle someone with a medical history. In fact, the agent could do more harm than good if he is not familiar with the special risk marketplace.
Out of the thousands of life insurance carriers operating in the United States, it is probably true that less than a couple dozen actually specialize in underwriting risk for individuals with medical conditions. I mean if you think about it, it doesn’t take alot of underwriting knowledge to offer a policy to someone that is perfectly health, with perfect height/weight and perfect family history. Basically any insurance company would accept this risk.
That’s why it is so important that your agent know which particular companies in the industry would specialize in your particular situation. The agent can then do the legwork for the prospect and come back with the best offer available. You don’t want to spend your time completing multiple applications and doing several insurance exams and tests without knowing if the company you are applying to is even interested.
Basically we see a couple of different outcomes for those individuals with a history of hemochromatosis. If they are treated, stabilized, have normal blood studies, with no complication you can typically expect no rating on the policy.
Others, that are more complicated or have heart, liver involvement or diabetes is typically considered on an individual basis.
But, it is important to repeat that the individuals that are considered on an individual basis must still work with insurance carriers that evaluate this type of risk the most favorable. It is not a one size fits all.
If coverage thru traditional underwriting does not find an offer we also may have options thru the guaranteed issue plans.
We are experts in the special risk marketplace. We know the carriers that will look at your risk the most favorably. And we know how to negotiate the best rates since we have been doing it for 30 plus years.
If you would like a free evaluation of your situation, I urge you to contact us by phone or email at 1-888-393-9003 or email@example.com
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