Prostate cancer is common among older men, it isn’t as lethal as other diseases. Learn to get life insurance approval with prostate cancer.
Life Insurance Approval With Prostate Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, around one in eight men will have prostate cancer at some point during their lives. In 2021, the Society estimates that almost 250,000 new cases will develop, with the potential for over 35,000 deaths.
What you should notice about those figures is that while prostate cancer is common, particularly among men over 50, the death rate is surprisingly low. There are several reasons for this, but the most likely cause is that men tend to get their prostate checked more regularly once reaching 50. By doing so, they can catch cancer cells early and eradicate the disease before it takes over.
Since this cancer is not as deadly as other varieties, it is possible to get life insurance approval with prostate cancer. However, as you can imagine, there are many different factors and variables to consider. This article will outline the elements you need to know about getting life insurance after your diagnosis.
What If I Was Just Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer?
As with anything, the insurance underwriters want to assess your level of risk. If you are currently battling cancer, you will get denied coverage virtually across the board because there is a higher chance of you dying sooner rather than later.
If you are in that situation, your only option would be guaranteed acceptance life insurance. As the name implies, even those with a critical or terminal illness can be covered. However, the downsides are that the monthly premiums are significantly higher, and there is a two-year waiting period for your beneficiaries to receive the full payment.
The waiting period means that if you died within the first two years, your beneficiaries would only receive the amount of money you paid into the policy. In most cases, the insurance company will add 10 percent to that total. After the two years are up, however, the full death benefit will kick in until after the policy has been in place two years.
What If I Had Prostate Cancer and I’m in Remission?
Here is where life insurance approval is possible. That being said, the underwriters still want to know as many details as possible so that they can understand your specific situation. The primary elements when looking at how prostate cancer will affect underwriting a life insurance policy is:
- Date of Diagnosis
- Treatment Received
- Stage of the Cancer
- Pre-Treatment and Current PSA Levels
- Gleason Score
- Duration of Remission.
Here is a breakdown of each of these factors.
Date of Diagnosis
Although prostate cancer is more common in older men, that doesn’t mean that young men can’t get it. At first, you may assume that a younger person would be better at fighting the disease since they are likely in better shape and health. However, it’s actually the opposite with cancer.
Cancer can be more dangerous for young adults because the cells can spread faster, meaning that it’s much harder to contain and treat. However, in older patients, the chances of cancer moving to other parts of the body are much lower.
Because of this information, it can be quite challenging to get life insurance if your diagnosis occurred before you turned 50. While it is possible, your options will be severely limited. In most cases, insurance companies offer favorable rates for men over 60 who had prostate cancer and beat it. With some insurers, individuals can get a policy almost immediately after going into remission.
If you’re wondering why your age matters so much, the reason is that underwriters are wary of the cancer coming back. The younger you are, the more likely that it could return once you get older. If you beat prostate cancer in your 60s, there is far less risk of it returning.
With many types of cancer, patients will receive radiation treatments or chemotherapy. However, with prostate cancer, the most common removal option is surgery. This treatment is called prostatectomy, and it involves removing your prostate before the cancer has a chance to spread.
Because prostatectomies are so successful, many insurance companies will allow patients to get a policy right away. Although you won’t be able to get the best rates, you will avoid the most expensive ones. To qualify for a policy, your PSA level has to be at 0.2 or less (more about PSA levels later on).
On the other hand, if you did receive radiation treatment for your cancer, you will have to wait a full year after your last session. The reason for the waiting period is that the underwriters want to make sure that it is really gone. In some instances, the treatment may not kill all of the cells, so the cancer could return relatively soon. Even if it is gone, your PSA level needs to be at 0.1 to qualify for life insurance.
Sometimes, those with a prostate cancer diagnosis will receive a “wait and see” plan from their doctor. In this case, the doctor is waiting to see if the cancer spreads or worsens before developing treatment options.
If you are on a wait and see plan, your age matters. Again, if you are over 50, you might still be able to qualify for standard life insurance. If you’re younger than that, though, you will have to settle for a guaranteed acceptance plan.
As the cancer cells multiply and spread, doctors will assign a stage to the disease. There are five stages to cancer – zero through four. The higher the stage, the more aggressive the cancer and the more likely it will spread to other parts of the body. In fact, stage four means that the cells have moved beyond the prostate, meaning that it will be much harder to treat and contain.
Typically speaking, prostatectomies happen when the cancer is in stage one or two. Once it has reached stage three, there is too high a risk that the cells will spread outside of the prostate, so alternative treatments are necessary.
So, as you can imagine, your cancer’s stage will affect your ability to get life insurance approval. Again, the underwriters want to be sure that the cancer is entirely gone and won’t return.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Levels
When your prostate is working correctly, it produces prostate-specific antigens. These antigens are proteins and a byproduct of the organ. Cancer cells also like to produce PSAs, which means that your levels will be elevated.
As a rule, healthy individuals should have a PSA level of four or less. Ideally, it should be at 2.5, but that changes as one gets older. If you are between four and 10, there is a 25 percent chance that you have prostate cancer. If the level is over 10, there is a 50 percent chance of the disease.
Because the prostate produces PSAs, insurance companies want to check your levels after treatment and remission. As we mentioned, your PSA should be at 0.2 or less if you get a prostatectomy or 0.1 if you received radiation therapy. Once your prostate is gone, the only thing that produces PSAs would be cancer, hence the low numbers.
When doctors are determining the stage of prostate cancer, they will also figure out its Gleason score. This score is based on how much the cancer cells look like healthy ones. The more they look identical, the less aggressive the disease.
The Gleason score goes from six to 10. Anything below a six isn’t counted since the cancer cells are too similar to healthy ones. A score of six is considered low-grade cancer, while a seven is medium-grade. Anything above an eight, where the cells are significantly different, is regarded as high-grade cancer.
Insurance companies want to pay attention to your Gleason score to help determine whether the cancer was aggressive or not. If so, there is a chance that it could have spread to other parts of the body or come back later. So, if your score was above a six, you will have to pay much higher premiums. If you scored a six or less, you can likely receive standard rates.
Duration of Remission
For the most part, insurance companies will pay the most attention to your PSA levels, treatment options, and your age when drafting your life insurance policy. However, since underwriters like to have as little risk as possible, one of the best ways to improve your rates is to apply for insurance years after going into remission.
Waiting is beneficial because it shows that the cancer is less likely to come back. If you applied within weeks or months of getting treatment, it is too soon to tell whether your body will relapse. However, if you are already in your 60s, you don’t want to wait too long, as your premiums will only go up every year you don’t apply.
Bottom Line: Life Insurance Approval With Prostate Cancer is Possible
Overall, the lower grade your cancer was, the more likely that you can get favorable rates. Even if you had a more aggressive version of the disease, you can still get a policy – it will just be more expensive.
Contact NextGen Life Insurance Today
Regardless of your situation, the best way to find lower rates is to compare different policies across a wide array of companies. At NextGen Life Insurance, we make it easy to find the plan that works best for your needs and your budget. Get your free quote today or call us at 646-216-4199 to get started.