Getting approved for life insurance is not always easy. If you are healthy with no issues, it might be. But for the majority of people, it can be confusing and scary. Especially if you’ve had a heart procedure done.
For some, they fear that a cardiac catheterization can cause them to not be eligible for life insurance.
When it comes to this procedure, it will not alone get you denied for life insurance. The reason for the catheterization is what will be considered in determining if you get approved.
Let’s take a look at what a cardiac catheterization is, why someone gets it done, and your chances of getting approved for life insurance.
What is Cardiac Catheterization?
Another name for cardiac catheterization is cardiac cath or heart cath. This procedure is done to find out if you have any disease in your
- Heart muscle
- Coronary arteries
- Heart valves
- Wall of the heart
- Heart chambers
A hollow thin tube is inserted in one of your main arteries in either your arm, groin or neck. The tube is then threaded through your artery through your blood vessels until it reaches your heart.
The process is done for different reasons. If a blockage is a concern, your doctor may include a coronary angiogram as well. This includes x-rays of the heart and arteries and a contrast dye is injected through the catheter.
The catheter is used to determine heart disease in a number of ways:
- Take a biopsy (sample) of tissue for testing
- Diagnose congenital heart defects (mostly done in children)
- Check that the left and right ventricles of the heart are functioning and pumping correctly
- Measure different parts of the heart for pressure and oxygen levels
- Locate any heart valve problems
- Evaluate a potential heart transplant recipient prior to or after transplant
- Take a closer look after a procedure of
- Cardiac CT scan
- Cardiac MRI
- Diagnose signs or symptoms of
- Heart attack
- Chest pain
- Ischemic heart disease
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Mitral regurgitation
Other reasons why someone would have a heart cath procedure:
- Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) – if a coronary artery is found to be blocked or narrowed, this procedure may be performed. It can be used to place a stent, balloon dilation or angioplasty. Learn more about life insurance after an angioplasty.
- Repair or replace heart valves
- Correct congenital heart defect, including repairing holes in the heart
- Prevent blood clots
- Heart arrhythmia ablation
Though major complications after this procedure are rare, you should know there are some risks.
- Heart attack
- Bruising at the injection site
- Allergic reactions, either to medication administered or dye contrast used
- Blood clots
- Tearing of the tissue in either the artery or heart
- Artery damage from inserting or removing the catheter
What it means for Life Insurance
The most important information the underwriter will want to know after a cardiac catheterization are the results.
The cardiac cath report will show if there is a problem and what section of the heart it’s in. The mid-section of the heart will likely have you qualify for better rates than elsewhere.
Also, the report should contain the Ejection Fraction percentage in the left ventricle. This is important because the left ventricle is responsible for pumping your blood throughout your body.
If the Ejection Fraction percentage is greater than 55 percent, it’s in the normal range and better for your rate. A reading of 50 percent or lower points to a dysfunction in the left ventricle. Anything 40 or lower will likely result in a decline on your life insurance application.
Knowing your Ejection Fraction percentage is crucial information to provide when getting quotes. It will help your agent determine the best insurance company to work with for the most favorable outcome.
What to Expect When Applying for Life Insurance after Cardiac Catheterization
Once you’ve worked with an agent to find a company and have determined the amount of coverage, you’re ready to apply.
When completing the application, you’ll have to provide personal information to the agent. On top of the standard questions, you’ll be asked to provide information on your cardiac catheterization.
Additional Health Questions
Be prepared to answer the following:
- What was the date of the catheterization?
- Why was the cath required?
- What were the results of the catheterization?
- What is your Ejection Fraction percentage?
- Have you ever had heart disease or another heart-related condition?
- Are you at risk for any of the above heart issues?
- Do you have a family history of heart disease or cancer?
- Are you currently taking any medications?
- Were there any complications from the procedure?
The more information you can provide on your application, the better. Providing a complete picture of your health to the underwriter helps them give you the best rate.
When applying for traditional life insurance, you’ll have to complete a medical exam. This is done either in your own home or a lab testing facility.
You’ll have to answer some of the same health questions and confirm application responses. You will also give samples of blood and urine to be tested.
Once completed, your results will be forwarded to the underwriter for review. After they have all the information, the underwriter will make a final determination on your rate.
What Rate Can I Expect for Life Insurance after Cardiac Catheterization?
The rate you get will be determined by your overall health. Preferred plus is the absolute best rating you can get as well as the cheapest. A substandard or table rating is going to be the worst and most expensive.
There a few different determinations provided.
While difficult to get this rating, it’s not impossible. It will depend on the reason and diagnosis after your cardiac catheterization procedure. If it was
- Just for testing and nothing was found
- Your EF percentage was high
- You are otherwise healthy with no other concerns
Then there is potential you can get this rate. The only way is to provide enough information to underwriting to prove you are exceptionally healthy.
More likely rating than preferred plus. If you had the cath for diagnosis only and are in otherwise great health, you might get a preferred rating.
Some companies offer a preferred smokers rating. But if you have had a cardiac catheterization procedure, it’s not likely you’ll get this rating as a smoker.
This is most likely the rating you can expect to receive. It allows for minor health issues like being overweight or having higher cholesterol readings.
If your cardiac cath resulted in a minor procedure being done, you still have a chance at a standard rating. If this is the case, you’ll want to wait at least a year before applying for life insurance.
And, the underwriters will want documentation that the issue was fully resolved and not ongoing cause for concern.
Substandard or Table Rating
A substandard rating is also likely depending on your health picture. If you do have heart issues, or something else was found from the heart cath, like thickening or blockages.
This can also be the case if you have a few factors going against you. If you are overweight and a smoker plus have potential heart issues, you might get a substandard rating.
If you are table rated, the closer to A you get, the better. An A rating will be the best you can get and will result in a lower rate. A J rating will be the worst case scenario and include a more expensive premium.
There is a chance you can be denied. If you have a heart issue, especially one that is ongoing, you can be denied depending on severity.
This is why it is so important to speak with an agent before you apply with health concerns. They can help find the life insurance company who works with your specific health issues. They will also guide you through the process of applying and what to expect.
It will not only increase your chances of being approved but also how much you will pay in premium.
How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting Approved with a Good Rate?
We always like to provide some tips for readers to use when applying for life insurance with specific health issues.
Here are some tips we have to improve your chances of getting a decent life insurance rate after cardiac catheterization.
This is probably the most important tip we can offer. If you are a smoker and your doctor’s worried about potential heart issues, you need to quit.
It’s true that life insurance companies offer smokers rates. But those rates are automatically higher, even for the healthiest of smokers. Add in a heart condition, and it can greatly increase your chances of denial or really expensive premiums.
It Might Pay to Wait
It’s almost always best to wait a bit to apply for life insurance if you’ve had a medical procedure done. Your doctor and the underwriters both want to make sure you don’t have any complications afterward.
If you had a heart cath procedure done, wait at least six months after. If you had to have another procedure done during the cath, then wait at least a year to apply.
Speak with an Agent First
Working with an agent can mean the difference between getting approved or denied. It can also get you a better rate.
We talked about this a little bit earlier, but agents are worth speaking with before you apply for life insurance. They’ll find a life insurance company that will work best with your case. They can also discuss your health profile with an underwriter BEFORE you apply.
This is important because they can know exactly what to include with your application. Providing all the right information with as much detail as possible helps the underwriter give you the best rate.
The best part about working with a life insurance agent? IT’S TOTALLY FREE! Yes, you read that right. Working with one of our agents doesn’t cost you anything extra and does not increase your premiums.
Do I Have Other Options if I Get Denied?
A denial for life insurance is not always a surprise, but it can be upsetting to some people. Even if you presented everything the underwriter wants, you can still be denied if you aren’t healthy.
You can make some improvements to your lifestyle and reapply. If you lose weight, quit smoking, and reduce other health risks, you can try again. You might get a better rate that way.
If you need coverage in place now and can’t wait to reapply, there is another option for you. A guaranteed issue life insurance policy has no health questions or medical exam. If it is available in your state and you can afford the premium, apply and you are approved.
It really is that easy. Of course, this type of life insurance is the most expensive and has limited coverage. But, it can be a good option to get some coverage until you are healthy enough for traditional life insurance.
If you’re ready to get a quote today, you can get one for free on our website. Questions? You can reach out to one of our agents right now and they’ll answer them for you.