Coverage and Cholesterol DOES Mix
By Peter W. Chao, MD MSc
Most insurers dislike high cholesterol levels (aka “hypercholesterolemia,” in doctor-speak…because we like to sound smart) from lab tests because the causes of the condition usually involve bad habits, such as a fatty diet, tobacco use and alcohol, or concomitant medical conditions such as diabetes or obesity.
However, just because you have elevated LDL levels does NOT mean that you are uninsurable. It depends on the whole picture of your overall health.
What is “High Cholesterol?”
As you may already know, not all cholesterol is the same. There is the oft-maligned LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and the its angelic cousin, HDL (high-density lipoprotein), and it is the HDL cousin that should be present in higher levels because of its protective effects on cardiovascular function.
When insurers look at cholesterol, they are usually scrutinizing your LDL levels. Namely, if it is over a certain threshold such as 240 mg/dL then many insurers start distancing themselves from considering coverage for you. For physicians, 200 mg/dL is when we start to become concerned.
Before we get to a sales pitch of “oh, well we know how to get you covered using tricks A, B, C” … let’s get down to what REALLY matters: how do you actually get your LDL levels lower, while increasing your HDL levels?
Obviously, the first steps would be a lifestyle and perspective check. What really matters to you in your life? Your spouse? Your children? Your own future livelihood? If any of these matter, then it may be time to reconsider whether or not some indulges are worth letting go of.
Are you smoking tobacco, or otherwise taking nicotine-related products, such as vaporizers, chewed tobacco or cigars? Are your eating habits worth reconsidering, such as fast food, sugary substances or large amounts of alcohol? Is it possible for you to cut down just one or two of your indulges a day as a first step towards a better future?
If so, and if your LDL levels are between 130-159 then simply taking some action by adjusting your diet and starting some basic exercise is worth their trouble several times over.
If your LDL levels are over 160 and HDL less than 40 then, not only are you at increasing risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), then you also need to start taking lipid-lowering medications such as statins and bile acid sequestrants, on top of lifestyle adjustments to get your health back into shape.
But worry not. So long as you comply with your physician’s medication regimen and make a concerted effort to improve your health then quality, affordable life insurance options will be available to you.
Once you start getting your LDL levels under control and more specifically, below 240 mg/dL, then certain insurers such as Genworth—which is among the most generous insurers when it comes to life insurance—will be more charitable with their rates by quoting you at their “Preferred Plus” rating, if all other factors such as your HDL, your compliance with your treatment regimen, and your focused effort on improving your health are all noted in our communications with them when we prepare your application.
Above all else, what we care about the most at CS Insurance Group is not solely on getting you approved, but also ensuring that your health is in good condition so that you would never have to rely on your life insurance policy in the first place.