Diabetes is an extremely common and often misunderstood disease. According to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report, 30 million people across the U.S. are diabetic and another 84 million people have prediabetes.
Furthermore, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that more than 7 million people with diabetes remain undiagnosed.
Getting a diabetes diagnosis will lead to many lifestyle changes. It also may impact your chances of approval for various forms of insurance, as insurers will consider pre-existing conditions before extending coverage.
Laws such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prevent health insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions or changing coverage due to a diabetes diagnosis. However, there are no such protections for people seeking other forms of insurance, such as life insurance or long-term care insurance.
People with diabetes who are looking for health insurance are protected by the following rules.
- Health insurance providers cannot deny coverage, change coverage or refuse treatment due to pre-existing conditions.
- Many health plans are required to provide preventive care at no cost. This can include diabetes screenings for those with high blood pressure and for pregnant women. Those who are prediabetic or have a family history of diabetes will benefit.
- Some essential health benefits must be covered, including chronic disease management.
"Grandfathered" individual insurance plans are not included in this provision. If you obtained individual health insurance coverage for yourself or your family prior to March 23, 2010, ask your insurer if your plan is exempt from these rules. If your plan doesn't offer these protections, then you will need to purchase a new health insurance plan to gain them.
However, diabetics may pay more for certain parts of health care despite ACA regulations. Some drug costs—such as insulin, which is increasing in price—may still be passed on to policyholders. Insurance companies are starting to shift the costs of prescriptions to policyholders by raising deductibles, which is impacting people who use medications.
Life insurance companies are not bound by the same rules as health insurance providers. In fact, life insurance companies can and often will reject applicants for a large number of pre-existing issues, including diabetes, obesity, hepatitis, cancer and even motor vehicle records. Or, if you managed to qualify for life insurance with a diabetes diagnosis, you may have to pay higher rates because the insurer would see you as a higher risk to cover.
Your best option is likely to manage the condition with your health care provider, then find a life insurance company that focuses on people with diabetes.
Car insurance companies typically do not deny coverage due to health reasons. Part of this is because nearly all states require car insurance in order to drive. However, your state may require you to submit a medical evaluation form before issuing you a license. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can result in a heart attack or stroke, so some state licensing agencies may consider your condition and symptom management before granting you a license. Although most diabetics will be able to obtain a license, the ADA notes that some sufferers with unique conditions associated with the disease may be denied a license or face extra steps to get approval.
Long-Term Disability Insurance
Type 1 diabetes sufferers may be able to qualify for long-term disability insurance through Social Security or a private insurer. However, disability insurance providers may require applicants to meet certain conditions.
In particular, those looking to get long-term disability coverage may need to provide medical reports showing they suffer from vision impairment, have frequent acidosis or have neuropathy that affects movement. You may also need to prove that you are working to control the disease via lifestyle and dietary changes as well as through medication.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Diabetes sufferers can obtain long-term care insurance from a variety of providers, depending on the nature of the symptoms. Typically, Type 2 diabetes sufferers will have an easier time obtaining long-term care coverage. However, those with Type 1 diabetes can still obtain a policy assuming the condition is under control. If not, this will significantly reduce the number of providers willing to extend coverage.
Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.
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