Worry-Free Life Insurance with COPD

Because of the nature of the disease, purchasing affordable life insurance with COPD can be problematic. Since there is no known cure for COPD, the severity of the condition along with your overall health will be the determining factor if an insurance company will issue your policy and how much they will need to charge for it.

COPD: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prognosis

Since about 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and another 12 million may have it but haven’t been diagnosed yet, the disease is well known to Americans all across the country.

  • What is COPD?

COPD is what happens when chronic bronchitis and emphysema intersect in a patient. When you breathe, the air travels through the tubes (airways) in your lungs to millions of very small air sacs. If the lungs are healthy, the airways are open, and so the air sacs fill up with the air you breathe in and then is quickly breathed out.

When you have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), It becomes difficult to get air through your airways and then in and out of your air sacs. The disease will typically involve two major problems:

  1. Chronic Bronchitis – Chronic bronchitis is an increase in coughing and the production of mucus which is caused by inflammation of the airways. It is considered chronic when a person coughs and produces considerable mucus during most days of a three-month period in a year for two consecutive years.
  2. EmphysemaEmphysema occurs when there is damage to your air sacs or a collapse of the smallest breathing tubes in your lungs.
  • The Causes of COPD

Researchers know that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. In fact, smoking is considered to be responsible for 80 to 90% of all cases. They have also found that exposure to industrial pollutants for long periods of time makes up the other 20%.

Both of these exposures can result in inflammation of the linings of the airways in your lungs and can also make the airways lose their elasticity.

  • Symptoms of COPD

The most common symptoms and signs of COPD are coughing that may produce mucus, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Typically, as the disease progresses, these symptoms are likely to become problematic. Since the disease is progressive with no known cure, it will get progressively worse over time and must be managed, so the patient will have a quality of life.

  • Treatment for COPD

Being diagnosed with COPD is concerning but certainly not considered the end of the world for the patient. Patients with a mild form of the disease will likely require only lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, not being exposed to second-hand smoke, and ceasing to be in working environments where there is exposure to chemical pollutants.

For patients that continue to have symptoms of tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing, there are medications such as Albuterol and inhaled corticosteroids that can reduce inflammation of the airway and relax and dilate the bronchial tubes.

Patients that have severe and chronic symptoms will likely be treated with inhaled steroids, combination inhalers (combination of bronchodilators and inhaled steroids), Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors, Theophylline, and certain Antibiotics.

How will COPD Affect My Life Insurance?

The good news is that having COPD does not mean an automatic decline when you apply for traditional life insurance. In fact, applicants with mild cases of COPD often receive a standard rating or a rating slightly below standard.

Applicants with moderate COPD typically experience significant coughing and have bouts with shortness of breath. These symptoms will require some form of medication, and that usually results in a sub-standard rating if the application is accepted.

For applicants who are suffering from severe COPD, obtaining traditional life insurance is very difficult, and even if you are approved, the rate will be surcharged substantially. Applicants who are declined will need to consider “guaranteed issue” life insurance since there is no medical underwriting required having a policy issued.

Unfortunately, many applicants that have COPD may present other risk factors as well and may not be able to obtain traditional life insurance even with a mild form of COPD. Applicants who have COPD and continue to smoke will likely be declined as well.

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