Receiving dialysis can bar you from getting traditional life insurance, but it’s easier to get burial insurance for dialysis patients. Learn more here.
For those living with kidney failure, life can be much more challenging than usual. Fortunately, living in the United States means that you can get dialysis treatments from the government. Thanks to a law passed in 1972, those experiencing end-stage renal failure don’t have to worry about paying for dialysis.
Unfortunately, while this treatment can help provide some quality of life, those with kidney failure will experience a heightened risk of complications or death. For that reason, it can be tough to get life insurance.
Thankfully, if you’re on dialysis, you don’t have to worry about leaving your loved ones empty-handed. In this article, we’ll discuss getting burial insurance for dialysis patients. While this option isn’t as inclusive as other forms of life insurance, it can still provide peace of mind.
What is Dialysis?
Your kidneys are a vital part of your body. They act as filters for your blood, removing harmful substances so that they don’t accumulate over time. Because these organs are so crucial, you need to make sure that they are working properly at all times.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), about 661,000 Americans have been diagnosed with kidney failure. When that occurs, patients are at a much higher risk of experiencing a stroke, along with heart problems and other ailments.
Fortunately, dialysis is a treatment option that helps take over when your kidneys stop working. Simply put, a machine will extract blood and filter out toxins and other waste materials before putting it back into your body.
Not only that, but the process will ensure that your blood pressure stays at an adequate level, and it will provide the right balance of minerals and chemicals in your blood.
Typically speaking, only those with end-stage renal failure need to undergo regular dialysis treatments. If you have lost up to 90 percent of your kidney functions and have a Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) of less than 15, your doctor will recommend dialysis immediately.
There are two primary forms of dialysis – hemodialysis and peritoneal. Let’s break down each one further.
In this case, you get an artificial kidney that does the work of cleaning your blood. Usually, doctors will create an access point (via surgery) in your arm or leg. The artificial kidney is hooked up to the access so that your blood can flow in, get cleaned, and then flow back into your system.
Occasionally, the access point will be in the neck to provide better blood flow. Typically, when this happens, it is a temporary measure, but it will depend on your particular situation.
Hemodialysis usually takes about four hours, and patients have to undergo it three times per week. This process also has to occur in a dialysis clinic or hospital, since attaching the artificial kidney requires a professional.
Rather than hooking you up to a machine and letting it drain and replace your blood, peritoneal dialysis takes place inside your body. You will have to undergo surgery to place an access point inside your torso, which can be reached via a catheter. Inside the cavity, dialysate fluids are drawn into the blood while toxic elements are removed.
Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) can take place at home and is minimally invasive. You simply hook up a bag of dialysate to the catheter and wait for the process (called an exchange) to finish. Usually, it will last about four hours. Fortunately, with CAPD, you can continue to go about your regular routine until it’s finished.
Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD) happens at night while you sleep. In this case, multiple exchanges will occur, thanks to the help of a specialized machine. Each transfer takes about 90 minutes, and the number of them will depend on your particular needs.
As you can see, peritoneal dialysis offers much more flexibility and freedom since you don’t have to go to a clinic to get it done. However, the initial surgery can be dangerous, and the costs of this treatment can be higher than hemodialysis.
How Dialysis Affects Life Insurance Rates
While the federal government mostly covers the cost of this treatment (up to 80 percent), kidney failure is a serious issue. In some cases, dialysis patients can continue treatment for decades. However, the average life expectancy for those with end-stage renal failure is between five and 10 years.
Because of the heightened health risk, insurance companies won’t cover dialysis patients. If you’re undergoing treatment, or have been getting treated in the last few years, you won’t be able to get a policy.
As we mentioned, kidney failure can come with a host of other potential complications. Strokes and heart disease are common, thanks to toxins and waste materials building up in the blood.
Even though dialysis filters much of these elements out, it’s not as efficient as what your kidneys can do. Also, a healthy kidney will filter toxins out 24/7. Dialysis patients are only treated three times a week.
What If I Get a Kidney Transplant?
Currently, the only way to cure kidney failure is with a transplant. Unfortunately, the waitlist for these transplants is exceedingly long, which means that most patients will have to undergo dialysis for the rest of their lives. That being said, anyone with this condition should get onto a waitlist, as it’s always possible for a transplant to come through.
If you do get a new kidney, your life insurance options may change, but that depends on several factors. Thankfully, most patients have a 97-percent success rate with a transplant from a healthy donor. Even kidneys from cadavers have a 94-percent success rate, meaning that you’re likely to make a full recovery.
That being said, this is what your insurance company will pay close attention to after you’ve had the transplant.
- Date of Operation – if you received a new kidney within the last three years, you will still likely be declined. Complications can arise that will put your health at risk, so insurers want to make sure that you won’t relapse later on.
- Anti-Rejection Medication – one potential problem with a transplant is when your body tries to reject the organ. Fortunately, modern medicine has significantly mitigated this issue, but you will have to take medication to ensure that it doesn’t happen.
- Diet and Other Health Problems – typically, after getting a transplant, you will have to watch what you eat and drink. Not only that, but those with kidney failure usually have other health issues like diabetes. Your insurance agent will want to take a comprehensive look at your medical history following a transplant.
In many cases, once you reach the three-year mark, your insurance options can improve. The longer it’s been since the operation, the more likely that you can get standard or preferred coverage. If it’s been years or decades since the transplant, you will still want to disclose that on your medical form. Some companies have strict policies regarding organ recipients, so you need to make sure that you can avoid claims of fraud down the road.
Getting Burial Insurance for Dialysis Patients
If a kidney transplant isn’t a viable option, then you may feel like you can’t get life insurance. Although you won’t be able to obtain standard term or whole insurance plans, you can still get burial insurance. This type of coverage is also called final expense insurance because it’s designed to help your loved ones cover the costs of things like burial, funeral, and a memorial service.
Advantages of Burial Insurance
Just because you can’t get the benefits of regular life insurance doesn’t mean that burial insurance isn’t a viable option. Let’s break down the pros and cons of this kind of policy so that you know what to expect.
Unlike other types of life insurance, you don’t have to worry about getting denied. These plans are designed for those with severe or life-threatening medical issues, including kidney failure. Other examples of people that should seek out burial insurance include cancer patients and those over 80.
As we’ll get into below, final expense life insurance can come with a few different premium options. Guaranteed acceptance is typically the most expensive. However, you may be able to save money on your monthly payments, depending on your situation.
No Medical Exam or Questionnaire
Since this insurance is designed to pay out regardless of an individual’s health, there is no medical exam. In fact, you don’t even have to disclose that you’re on dialysis or that you have had kidney failure.
However, if you want to reduce your premium payments, you will need to talk to your insurance agent to see if you qualify for different rates. Overall, you will have to make higher payments, but there is some flexibility with them.
The term “burial insurance” can be a bit misleading. Your death benefit can be used however your beneficiaries see fit. For example, if you want to get cremated and avoid a memorial service, the money left over will still go to your loved ones to cover anything else they need.
On the other hand, you can also get an insurance policy with a funeral home directly. In this case, the entire death benefit is used for things like your casket, burial, and memorial service.
The advantage of getting this plan is that you can lock in rates ahead of time. The downside, however, is that any extra funds won’t go to your beneficiaries. Also, if the funeral home shuts down before you pass on, your policy will be null and void.
Disadvantages of Burial Insurance
Unfortunately, dialysis patients don’t have much of a choice when it comes to getting life insurance. While some coverage is better than nothing, you will want to consider these factors before deciding. In some cases, the downsides may outweigh the benefits, so it’s up to you to determine if this insurance is worthwhile.
No matter what, you will be paying higher premiums each month. Whereas term life insurance can be as little as twenty dollars or so (for healthy individuals), you can expect to pay hundreds.
If your budget is tight, you may not be able to afford this kind of coverage. Again, be sure to talk to your insurance agent to see what options are available before making a final decision.
Limited Death Benefit
Since burial insurance is specifically designed to cover your end of life expenses, these policies typically cap off at $25,000. In rare cases, you may be able to get a higher death benefit, but dialysis patients are unlikely to qualify.
Before moving forward with this kind of insurance, you will want to break down all of the costs related to your burial and funeral. Also, keep in mind anything else like outstanding debt, particularly if you’re going to pass assets to your loved ones (i.e., a house or a car). This insurance can help pay for those things, but only if there is money left over.
Two-Year Waiting Period
No matter what kind of plan you get, you will have to wait two years before your beneficiaries can receive the full payment. If you die within those two years, the insurance company will usually pay a return of premiums (however much you’ve paid into the plan) plus a small percentage.
Dialysis patients can expect to receive a modified or guaranteed issue plan. Modified plans can pay a higher interest rate if you die within the two years. With guaranteed issue policies, however, the rate is the same no matter what.
As we mentioned, the average life expectancy for dialysis patients is between 5 and 10 years, so you don’t want to wait on getting coverage.
Get Help from a Professional
Getting burial insurance for dialysis patients can be overwhelming, so let us assist you. We’ll help you compare plans and rates so that you find the best coverage for you and your loved ones. Don’t delay, contact us now to find out more.