Did you know that mental illness, and depression in particular, can make it harder to get life insurance? In some cases, you may be unable to get insurance at all. In a recent article “How to Get Life Insurance With Depression” on Lendedu.com, author Jeff Gitlen notes that despite a history of depression, you can still get coverage—you just need to shop around for the right policy and be prepared to provide details on your medical history.
So let’s back up a bit…who needs Life Insurance?
Life Insurance, according to Financial author Dave Ramsey, should be able to cover about 10-12 times an annual salary. Policy amount depends on what stage of life you’re at, who you’re providing for, your assets and several other factors.
Early on, a young family has rent or a mortgage, and plenty of bills... sometimes more bills than money.
When you’re older, you could have the house paid off, be living debt-free with assets like 401K plans and IRAs, drawing Social Security, and you may need less or no Life Insurance. In essence, you are self-insured -- though many keep their policies in place regardless.
Gitlen goes on to say that “Clinical depression is one health problem that can affect both your ability to obtain coverage and your costs of coverage for Americans. In some cases, insurers will deny you a policy altogether due to depression, while in other circumstances insurers may charge you more because of your mental health issue.”
What is underwriting and why should you care if you have depression?
In the process known as underwriting, the level of risk is determined and affects the cost and issuance of a policy. The factors surrounding mental illness make it appear that you are a bigger risk to the insurance company. Such factors can include:
• Severity of depression
• Length of depression
• Current treatments
• Medication history
• Treatments received in the past year
Life insurance rates are based on actuarial science, which is the use of statistics to look at mortality rates, production of income and the time value of money (compounding interest). The higher the risk, the higher the premium -- if they choose to ensure you. Mental illness and depression specifically are considered higher risks with lower mortality rates, in much the same way accidents on your record affect the ability to get and afford auto insurance.
In a 2018 article in Women’s Health on depression and life expectancy, Blue Cross did a study from 2013-2016, where they analyzed 41 million commercial customers’ health claims. 9 Million, or over 21% of their insured customers, suffered from major depressive disorder, or MDD. In the general US adult population, there are estimates that over 16 million adults, or almost 7%, have had at least one MDD episode in a given year.
“The most disturbing finding: People diagnosed with depression were found to have a shorter life expectancy than those who weren't diagnosed with depression. Part of this, the study says, is due to the fact that often people with depression were often diagnosed with related conditions that coincide with depression…on average, women with major depression had a reduced life expectancy of 9.5 years, while men with major depression saw a 9.7-year reduction in their life expectancy.”
This supports what Gitlen noted in his article, “All of these factors are evaluated to determine how likely it is that you will pass away and the insurer will have to pay out the death benefit.
Because people suffering from depression and certain other mental health issues have been shown to have a higher mortality rate, underwriters may deny coverage to someone with severe depression, or the insurer may decide to charge you much higher policy premiums because you’re considered high-risk.”
Getting Life Insurance is possible when suffering from depression! Here's what you need to know when The key takeaways here are twofold:
- If you’re suffering from depression and in a place where life insurance makes sense, you can still get affordable insurance, As Gitlen said, “You just need to know how to maximize your chances of obtaining a policy and need to be smart when shopping around among different insurers to get the right coverage.”
- If you suffer from depression--get help. There are many solutions available, but you need to see someone about it. If you’ve been under medical supervision and the outcome or effects of the medication aren’t acceptable, consider TMS Therapy (transcranial magnetic stimulation). It is a safe, proven, FDA-cleared treatment for depression, covered by most insurance carriers and Medicare, and even Medicaid in some states.
According to TMS Solutions CEO, Christopher Blackburn, “the defacto standard of measurement for depression is the PHQ-9 test. Many of our patients come in with an initial score of 20+. This represents a quality of life that is severely impacted by the disease, affecting family, occupation, and relationships. Remission is achieved from depression and its debilitating symptoms when the score is 9 or below. Most of our patients end treatment in the 4-6 range. It’s truly remarkable and life altering in the best possible way.”
Bottom line: If you’re able to get the help you need and provide your medical history to your insurance company, you may be able to get life insurance at a more affordable rate. If statistics can be relied upon, you can then live longer. Check with your insurance agent.
TMS Solutions has many offices in Colorado and Washington, if you or a loved one is suffering from treatment-resistant depression and you'd like to consider at a medication-free alternative, contact us at TMS Solutions to see if you are a candidate for this remarkable, drug-free treatment.