Mental health has finally become a household topic; however, stigma can still exist when you are applying for life insurance if you have a diagnosis of depression and/or anxiety. There are many different types, as listed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM 5), but somehow these mental health diagnoses are still stigmatized by agencies offering life insurance. Most likely with more time, life insurance policies will become more progressive. But if you are applying now, you may need a little help.
If I have anxiety or depression, can I get life insurance?
Short answer: yes. However, you should be prepared for common questionnaires that life insurance companies use to “screen” you for any red flags. They will want to know: how old you were when you became diagnosed, the degree that this disorder impacts your quality of life, your medication, if you see a psychiatrist regularly (which is a GOOD thing), if you have ever had ECT (if you do not know what those letters stand for, then you are fine), if you currently meet criteria for an inpatient stay in a psychiatric facility, or if you’ve ever been hospitalized (inpatient) at a psychiatric facility.
What about life insurance rate class? Do I qualify with anxiety or depression?
“Rate Classes” are what insurance companies use to determine your ultimate cost. Depending on whichever rate class you meet criteria for (there are about 16 different classes), your cost will ultimately be determined by the rate class. Here are a few umbrella terms used that comprise the rate classes you will most likely be eligible for, depending on your level of disability due to your illness. The “Preferred Best,” which is obviously the lowest amount of payment requires the following if you have a diagnosis of anxiety or depression:
- If you are only taking ONE medication (this actually depends, as if you are taking more than one medication, however your condition is actively monitored, you may still qualify).
- If your medication has been prescribed by your primary care doctor, and not a psychiatrist, you are also more likely to fit into the “Preferred Best.” This does not make logical sense, as primary care doctors, who do not specialize in mental health, or have up to date knowledge of psychopharmaceutical breakthroughs (much like a psychiatrist would), are less likely to treat anxiety and depression correctly. However, life insurance companies tend to see a person who has received medication from their primary care doctor as “less risky,” which is an out dated notion, but the stigma around mental health is also quite dated.
The next rate class, which is more expensive, is the “Standard” class:
- Patients who have been diagnosed with moderate anxiety or depression (including diagnosis that may require specific care, such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, are more likely to fall into this class.
- If the patient takes more than one medication to manage his/her anxiety and/or depression, this class is more likely that the “Preferred Best.”
- Additionally, if the patient has been hospitalized in an inpatient psychiatric or behavioral health facility will generally fall into this category.
Patients with debilitating anxiety and/or depression will most likely fall into the “Table Rated” class. This means that the patient:
- Is actively receiving disability benefits due to their condition
- Currently meets criteria for an inpatient stay in a psychiatric facility (for example: the patient currently has suicidal thoughts, and a plan, or has homicidal thoughts and a plan).
Despite these barriers, “Table Rated” patients may still pay less (given the “Table Rate”) if there are no additional comorbid disorders (“comorbid” simply means that the patient suffers from more than one illness. for example if a patient has anxiety, depression AND angina, they are less likely to pay less in the “Table Rate” class).
If I have anxiety or depression, what are some “best practices” I can use when applying for life insurance?
First of all, do your research. Not all life insurance companies see anxiety and depression in the same way. Some life insurance companies are more progressive regarding the stigma surrounding mental health. Additionally, insurance companies are constantly battling for more customers. The life insurance industry is still a business, after all. If the majority of potential consumers report anxiety and/or depression, life insurance rates will slowly shift to a more realistic standard. Ultimately, research is essential. Do not be afraid to call a company, they are a business and will absolutely not treat any potential customer badly. However, If you choose the wrong company you could very likely be refused or denied life insurance due to depression or anxiety.
Unfortunately, despite glaring statistics reporting that mental illness in incredibly common, and suicide is not only in the top 20 leading causes of death for Americans, it is actually the 10th leading cause, which doesn’t include the “accidental injuries,” which were suicides reported as accidents. These statistics can easily be found from dependable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Department of Health and Human Services. When all is said and done, even with anxiety or depression you can still apply for life insurance.
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