Long Term Care Insurance And Cancer Survivors

Is It Possible For A Cancer Survivor To Get Long Term Care Insurance?

Spotlight Series on Select Health Conditions and Long Term Care Insurance

This week’s focus…

Can a Cancer Survivor Buy Long Term Care Insurance?

There is good news in many cases if you’ve had cancer in the past. Although no company can underwrite you if you currently have been diagnosed with some form of cancer, most companies will consider underwriting you if sufficient time has passed since your last treatment.

In cases of basil or squamous cell skin cancer, you may even qualify for a company’s top underwriting class without having a waiting period.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are 13 million American cancer survivors alive today, and the numbers are growing. In large part this is due to advances in detection and treatment. The ACS also reports that the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined diagnosed between 2004 and 2010 is now 68%. This is up significantly from 49% in 1975 to 1977.

Cancer is an equal opportunity disease. It afflicts women and men, young and old. I’m not going to cite many statistics because I think we all know this is disease that continues to be a medical issue of great concern to us all. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women with the exception of cancers of the skin, while prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, again aside from skin cancer.

Because I lost a sister-in-law to breast cancer, I did decide to do a little research on this particular type of cancer.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. will grow by as much as 50 percent by 2030, according to the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The increase in breast cancer cases is largely due to the aging of female baby boomers. By 2030, when the “baby boomer” women reach 70 to 85 years of age, the number of breast cancer cases for these women is expected to rise from 24 to 35 percent.

Having been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, or any other type of cancer for that matter, does NOT mean you can’t qualify for long term care insurance. Depending on the stage (even stage IV) and number of years from last treatment, you may be able to qualify for coverage. Of course you have to satisfy the other normal underwriting requirements of a particular company’s underwriting process.

With some types of cancer if you’ve had early stage diagnosis and you’ve been treatment-free for generally a minimum of a couple (2) years (there may be certain cases where this time period may be even less; for example, at least one company will consider someone who was diagnosed with early state prostate cancer, has had surgery or radiation, and it’s been 12 months since last treatment, for a standard health class) you may qualify for standard underwriting class…even preferred class in some cases.

In addition, with some types of cancer even if you had a late stage diagnosis, if it’s been at least 5 years from your last treatment you may qualify for standard underwriting class…again even preferred class in some cases.

Of course, each case is different. There may be situations or circumstances where an underwriter just won’t be able to make an offer given all of the facts of the case.

Most insurance companies will not be able to underwrite if there has been a recurrence of the cancer or there’s been metastasis of the cancer. Underwriters will also want to know if there’s been related complications as a result of have a cancer.

When looking at long term care insurance where cancer has been part of your history, it’s important that your agent does what we refer to as “pre-underwriting” with you. Our process involves getting as complete a medical history as we can upfront and then submit preliminary “generic” inquiries (we don’t use names or any other personal identifying information in these inquiries) to all the insurance companies to see what tentative underwriting assessments we can receive before any formal application is submitted. This is done on your behalf and at no cost to you in order to help avoid any surprises later on.

Some of the questions asked in our pre-underwriting process would be similar to what an insurance company underwriter will want to know answers to. Questions like…What type of cancer and what stage? When the cancer was first diagnosed? How long in remission/last treatment? Has there been any presence of cancer in lymph node(s)? Has the cancer spread (metastasized)? Has a previously known cancer recurred? What treatment was received? Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery? Any problems post-treatment?

Note: Many, if not all, of the above questions will be addressed in the medical records that are ordered by the insurance company once a formal application is submitted. Our objective in the pre-underwriting process is to give the underwriter as much information as possible BEFORE a formal application is submitted so we can get a better idea of which company or companies would be the best to apply for coverage. Again, our objective is to work with the insurance companies on our clients behalf to try to avoid surprises later on.

Once we’ve received back tentative assessments, we can then help you decide which company would be best for you. While tentative assessments are just that…tentative, subject to formal underwriting…they do help increase the chances of being able to get the offer you’re looking for. Only after we’ve done our pre-underwriting process described above would we then submit a formal application on your behalf.

Some insurance companies will simply order your medical records and either conduct a phone or face-to-face interview, depending on age. Some insurance companies will have you do a paramed exam where a company-approved examiner comes to your home and does a “mini” physical exam. Behind the scenes all insurance companies will order a prescription check to verify the medications that you’re taking or have taken.

Working with a qualified LTCI advisor is especially important when there’s a history of cancer. It’s also important to work with someone who represents all of the top long term care insurance companies and can work with you to get you the right coverage.

Please let us know if we can help you secure valuable long term insurance coverage. Plan today for the future.

As an independent LTCi Advisor, my goal is to provide unbiased advice and help educate you on the various options available to you when planning for Long Term Care.

Scott F. Coomes, J.D., CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®

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