How to Buy Life Insurance with Iron Deficiency Anemia

Have you been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia and wonder how that affects getting a life insurance policy?

Have you been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia and wonder how that affects getting a life insurance policy?

You are not alone. There are over 400 kinds of anemia and it affects over 3.5 million people just in the United States alone.

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls iron deficiency a public health problem all over the world, even in richer countries like the United States and Canada. It is assumed that at least 50 percent of the cases are due to lack of iron, with a larger percentage in developing countries.

Let’s take a look at what iron deficiency anemia is, who’s at risk, and how it will make a difference when applying for life insurance.

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

One of the most common types of anemia is called iron deficiency anemia. According to the Mayo Clinic, anemia is “a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells.” Being iron deficient simply means your body is not taking in and/or absorbing enough iron from your diet.

Iron deficiency is common in both men and women but is more prevalent in menstruating women and teens, especially those who tend to have heavier and longer flows.

People who are more at risk for iron deficiency anemia:

  • Gastrointestinal diseases such as celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Anyone who has had recent trauma or surgery which caused significant and/or steady blood loss
  • Menstruating females
  • Regular blood donators
  • Patients who are on blood thinners
  • Parasite infections
  • Those who do not eat iron-rich foods, most commonly found in vegetarians and vegans
  • Heavy caffeine drinkers
  • Consuming large quantities of cow’s milk (especially in children)
  • Those who do not eat a well-rounded diet, regardless of cause

Now, let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Brittle nails
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Strange cravings for non-nutritive items, known as pica

If you have not done so already, you want to be sure you check with a doctor to rule out any other types of health problems, since the symptoms can be common and could be caused by other ailments.


In order for a doctor to diagnose and confirm a patient does have iron deficiency anemia, they have to do blood test panels to verify your symptoms.

The first test would be a Complete Blood Count (CBC) test. Results from this test will break down all parts of your red blood cells to determine their size and measure the levels of hematocrit and hemoglobin.

In a person without iron deficiency, hemoglobin (Hb) levels should be between 11.0-13.0 g/l. Children tend to be on the lower end, but levels are dependent on gender and age with men typically showing higher levels than women.

Most doctors can initially diagnose iron deficiency anemia by checking the levels on the CBC test. To determine the severity, they may do further testing of the blood under a microscope to check for size and color, ferritin levels, and total iron-binding capacity.

Your doctor will then come up with a plan to help get your iron levels up to eliminate the anemia and how to best prevent it in the future.


Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will likely prescribe iron supplements and an iron-rich diet to increase your iron levels and cure the anemia. If you have trouble absorbing iron in your gastrointestinal tract, you could be prescribed intravenous (IV) iron so it reaches your bloodstream.

You will likely also be prescribed an iron-rich diet and/or supplements to increase your levels. Dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and swiss chard along with fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C work well together to help your body absorb the iron.

Meat, poultry, and fish are also good sources of iron. Meat organs are the highest in iron, so if you are adventurous, consider eating liver, kidney, or beef tongue.

Some people may find that cooking with cast iron cookware can help to increase iron absorption in the body as well. Studies support the fact that iron from the pots and pans release into food as it cooks, and can increase iron levels up to 16 percent in some people.

Someone who has a severe case of anemia may have to have blood transfusions in order to increase levels to a point where they can be controlled through diet and supplements.

iron deficiency anemia life insurance

How will this affect getting life insurance?

Now that we’ve covered what iron deficiency anemia is, let’s take a look to see how it will affect getting life insurance.

Insurance companies have different tolerances for health issues, so you will want to know your iron levels and most recent doctor visit information when getting quotes. Make sure you are honest about your health so that you can get not only the right company to handle your health issues but the most accurate quote and pricing.

Our agents work directly with you to get a complete picture of your health to provide you with the best quotes from the best companies for your unique situation.

If you are currently deficient, the best rating you can hope for would be standard. You might get lucky and find a company who could offer preferred if you are in otherwise perfect health with no other concerns. If your levels are not normal, you could chance getting table rated with a higher premium and fewer coverage options.

Anything lower than the minimum acceptable levels would result in declination on the application. We would suggest waiting to get your application started until you have worked with your doctor to get your iron levels up to a standard level for at least a few months and you’re able to eliminate medications or intravenous iron.

Applying for a life insurance policy

When you are ready to apply for life insurance, you will have to answer health questions on the application. Besides being prepared with all of the standard questions, you will need to provide detailed information on your iron deficiency anemia, along with any other health issues you have and prescriptions or supplements you are be taking.

  • What is your doctor’s information – name, phone number, address
  • How long has it been since you were diagnosed?
  • Do you know what caused your anemia?
  • What treatment and/or medications are you taking?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized because of your condition?
  • Do you or did you have any other health conditions caused by your condition?
  • What tests were done to confirm your anemia?
  • When was your last CBC test and the results?

If your last test was longer than six months ago, you may have to get another done by your doctor or as part of the medical exam to make sure your levels are still being maintained.

Having been diagnosed and treated for iron deficiency anemia within the last five years will cause the most scrutiny by the underwriters reviewing your application. If your anemia was cured more than five years ago and you haven’t had a recurrence, it will likely not cause concern or affect your rating.

What if I don’t qualify?

Anemia alone is typically not life-threatening but can lead to or be caused by other health issues. The underwriters will take a close look at your application, health information, and medical results to make a decision on whether or not to offer you a policy and at what rate.

If your anemia is bad enough that your iron levels cannot be regulated, you might not be able to get a traditional life insurance policy. Luckily, there are other options available to you.

Your employer might offer a group life insurance policy that can provide you no or low-cost coverage. You will not have to answer any health questions, other than whether or not you are a smoker. This might be your cheapest option, but you are usually capped on the coverage limit and you will want to check to see if you can keep the policy if you leave.

Another option might be a no exam life insurance policy. With this policy, you don’t have to take a medical exam, but you will have to answer most, if not all, the same health questions. Your agent might be able to find a company that will work with you.

If your other attempts fail, there is always the guaranteed issue life insurance policy. There are no health questions, and as long as you are alive, haven’t gotten a terminal health diagnosis, and can pay the premium, you will get the policy issued. This is the most expensive option, but might be your only option if you are in bad health.

You also have the option of reapplying for life insurance later on if you can get your iron levels under control for a length of time and you don’t have any new health issues.

If you are looking for more information about possible life insurance options, reach out to us directly to receive a free quote.