Life Insurance & Diabetes
3 Types of Diabetes
There are three types of diabetes– type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. In this form of diabetes, felt to be caused by an autoimmune response that essentially destroys the beta cells of the pancreas so that they no longer produce insulin, daily insulin administration is a lifelong reality. Treatment also includes a healthy diet, close monitoring of carbohydrate intake, calorie control and regular exercise to minimize complications.
Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. Approximately 90% of all people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. People can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. This form of diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells in fat, muscle and liver tissue do not use insulin properly. At first, the pancreas keeps up with the added demand by producing more insulin. Over time, however, the pancreas can no longer secrete enough insulin and blood sugars begin to rise. People who are overweight and inactive are FAR more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Treatment includes a healthy diet, weight loss, exercise and ultimately the need for diabetes medications if people are not successful with weight loss and calorie control.
Gestational diabetes is an all too common complication of pregnancy, usually developing in women who have an excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Although this type of diabetes usually goes away after childbirth, these women are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Serious and Life Threatening Complications
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is absolutely essential that you eat healthfully and control your calorie intake to keep your weight in a healthy range. Over the course of years, people who continually have elevated blood glucose levels because they don’t control their calorie intake will develop damage to blood vessels and nerves, increasing the risk for a number of serious, even life-threatening complications such as:
- Heart disease and stroke – Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes.
- Blindness – Diabetic retinopathy causes 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year making diabetes the leading cause of blindness in adults.
- Kidney disease – Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.
- Amputations – More than 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.
What about Pre-diabetes?
Maybe you don’t have diabetes, but you or someone you know may have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Pre-diabetes is estimated to affect as many as 57 million Americans, putting them at risk to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Being overweight and physically inactive are contributing factors to both diabetes and pre-diabetes. In fact, about 80-90% of people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes are overweight to obese.
What are Insurance Companies looking for in a diabetic?
They are looking for information about you and your diabetes.:
- Type 1 or type 2 diabetes?
- Hemoglobin A1C levels?
- Age diagnosed?
- Medications and dosage?
- Any diabetic complications like neuropathy or kidney issues?
- Family history?
- Any other health issues (including cholesterol, high blood pressure or other diseases)?
Prevention is Key
Developing pre-diabetes or diabetes is not inevitable. Studies have shown that people at risk for diabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity level can prevent or delay diabetes and even return their blood sugar levels to normal. In the Diabetes Prevention Program, a large prevention study of people at high risk for diabetes, lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) resulting in modest weight loss of 5-10% of initial body weight reduced the development of diabetes by 58% over a 3 year period. The reduction was even greater (71%) for people over the age of 60!
Get Motivated to Achieve a Healthy Weight
Because most people with diabetes and pre-diabetes are overweight to obese, the Number ONE Strategy for improving blood glucose regulation is achieving a healthy weight. While losing weight isn’t easy, the rewards are great! Losing weight involves changing both your eating and exercise habits: two things that can be hard to do!
One way to increase your motivation is to find some inspiration. Ask yourself – do the costs associated with staying at your current weight outweigh the benefits of weight loss? Do you have high cholesterol, osteoarthritis or a family history of heart disease, stroke or cancer? These health conditions are directly linked to being overweight and studies have shown modest weight loss can prevent or delay these conditions. Does being overweight prevent you from accomplishing what you want to do in life? Losing weight will ultimately help you feel and look better and increase your energy level so you can do more of the things you enjoy. Losing weight will help you possibly reduce your premiums.
If your blood sugar levels are well controlled and you don’t have other major risk factors, you are well-positioned to qualify for an affordable policy.
Being Older may Help You
If you are diagnosed with diabetes at a younger age, you are considered “higher risk” by life insurance companies than someone who is 65 years old and was just diagnosed as a diabetic.
If you are diagnosed young, there’s a greater chance that you may develop complications over time. Conditions like heart disease, neuropathy, or kidney failure that we discussed in the beginning of the article.
Being at a higher risk, you will pay a higher premium. Smithfin will have insurance companies compete for your business to get an affordable rate for you.