Gout is an incredibly common health condition, one experienced by millions of people.
It’s actually a form of arthritis, and it has multiple causes. In and of itself, gout isn’t a major concern for life insurance companies. But if it goes to extremes, or is left untreated, it can cause more significant damage to the body. It can even affect the kidneys. It’s then that getting life insurance with gout becomes a little bit more complicated.
In most situations, your life insurance application will be approved.
Under a worst-case scenario, it will be approved with an increased premium. If you have the condition, it’s always best to work with a life insurance broker, who can find the insurance companies that have the most favorable view of the condition. That goes for any health condition, and not just gout.
What is Gout?
Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints and in other parts of the body. It’s a form of arthritis, causing attacks of swelling, stiffness and sudden burning pain. It usually originates in the big toe. If the condition isn’t treated, the attacks can happen repeatedly. They can eventually damage joints, tendons and surrounding tissues.
Pain can be intense, also attacking other joints, like knees, ankles, elbows, fingers, and thumbs.
It’s estimated over eight million Americans suffer from gout. It typically occurs in women after menopause. In men, it occurs between the ages of 30 and 50. It’s more common in men who are overweight or have hypertension. Diuretics, used in the treatment of hypertension, are also a contributing factor.
Causes of Gout
The actual cause of gout is the development of crystal deposits in the joints. The crystals are concentrations of uric acid that can cause stiffness and pain. It occurs as tiny, hard lumps building up in the soft flesh all the hands, feet, elbows or earlobes. If the crystals accumulate in the kidneys, it will lead to kidney stones.
The crystal deposits are the result of the buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream. Uric acid can be produced by the body, but it can also be the result of diet. Under normal circumstances, excess uric acid is filtered by the kidneys, and passed in the urine stream. But if that process fails to filter it out, the deposits collect in the joints and tendons.
It is believed to be caused by an excess consumption of alcohol, particularly beer. But can also be brought on by injury, surgery, hospitalizations, stress or diets high in meat and seafood. It has also been associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
How Life Insurance Companies Evaluate Applicants with Gout
Gout is on the lower end of concern in the life insurance industry.
That’s certainly true when compared with more serious conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. In addition to the fact that gout isn’t a fatal disease, it’s also one that can be easily treated.
The life insurance company will want to know that you are being proactive in treating the condition. They’ll also be interested to know if gout has caused more serious conditions, such as kidney stones.
Since gout isn’t a fatal condition, and rarely causes serious complications, your application should be approved. If you only have occasional attacks, you may be eligible for Preferred status, or even Preferred-Plus. These ratings will enable you to get the lowest priced premium for your coverage.
But even if the attacks are more than occasional, you’ll still be likely to qualify for a standard rate. In the case of a higher risk condition, you may receive a table rating, which will result in a slightly higher premium.
The rating will be determined by a combination of factors, including:
- When the first gout attack occurred
- How often attacks happen
- Whether or not you’ve ever been hospitalized as a result of an attack
- If any attacks have resulted in infections
Naturally, the insurance underwriter will also be interested in any other health-related conditions. With any life insurance applicant, underwriting must always evaluate the overall risk, and not just that specific to a particular condition.
The usual risks will be considered, including smoking, hypertension, or the presence of any other conditions. As previously discussed, obesity is a concern with gout since it aggravates the condition. But hypertension may also be an issue, since it is commonly treated with diuretics, which also affect gout.
Applying for Life Insurance with Gout
Gout is usually treated with drugs that reduce the buildup of uric acid, and alleviate the pain caused by the condition. Since gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis, it’s mostly a matter of reducing the inflammation.
When properly treated, gout usually improves in 3 to 10 days. It can sometimes be treated with nonprescription medications, like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. Other times prescription medications are required.
If you have gout, there are dietary changes you can make to improve the condition. These include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Avoiding sugary drinks
- Regular exercise
- Eating a balanced diet
- Avoiding alcohol, particularly beer
- Reducing your consumption of meat and seafood
These efforts may not eliminate gout attacks completely, but they will reduce the frequency and severity of occurrences.
You should also be intentional about losing weight if you are obese, since excess weight puts greater stress on the joints. You should seek medical attention whenever an attack occurs. And if you are on prescription medications, you should take them as necessary. The condition itself cannot be eliminated, but it can be managed and minimized.
Be sure that you are being treated for any other health conditions you have. It’s also important to maintaining good health on an ongoing basis to help those conditions from developing in the first place. The problem is never gout itself, but when it’s in combination with other health conditions. Many of those can be prevented by better living.
When completing the life insurance application, be ready to list episodes of all attacks, as well as treatments. Also list doctor visits and any medications you’re taking for the condition. You can simply list “gout” on the application, but rest assured that more information will be requested.
Why Working with a Life Insurance Broker is Your Best Strategy
Even though gout isn’t generally considered a serious health condition for life insurance purposes, you still need to be careful which companies you apply to.
Some will make a bigger issue out of gout than others.
That’s where you may run into lower ratings and higher premiums. Others take a more favorable view of gout, and will approve your application with a Preferred rating.
The point is, you don’t want to pay a higher premium than you need to. But finding the companies that will take the best view of gout isn’t easy.
This is why you need to enlist the services of a competent life insurance broker. One who knows which companies are most likely to welcome any of the various health conditions. There’s no standard industry position on any health condition. That’s why it’s important to match your health status with the right company.
Only a person who knows the industry well is in a position to do that. If you try to do it on your own, you could end up completing a lot of applications, and writing checks to cover multiple applications. But working with a life insurance broker can be a one-stop shop – approval and a lower premium.
Getting life insurance applications approved for people with various health conditions is what we do every day. If you have gout – or any other health condition – we’d like to help you get the most life insurance coverage for the lowest premium possible. Give us a call, or complete the quote request to the left of this article. We’re waiting to work for you!