How Crohn’s Disease Affects Life Insurance Rates
Crohn’s disease is one of a group of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) that cause inflammation or ulceration of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It specifically causes ulcerations of the small and large intestines, but can affect the digestive system anywhere from the mouth to the anus. It is closely linked to another IBD called ulcerative colitis. Together, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis affect approximately 500,000 to two million people in the United States. Though there is no known medical cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can greatly reduce the signs and symptoms of the disease and bring about long-term remissions that allow individuals with Crohn’s to function normally in their everyday lives. These same therapies also enhance Crohn’s patients’ chances to procure insurance.
Other related medical conditions (or medical terminology) include Chrohn’s Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, IBD, Colon Disorders, Colitis, and Ulcerative Colitis. Learn more information on receiving a term life insurance quote with these medical conditions from our life insurance specialists.
Crohn’s Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines. It is also referred to as granulomatous enteritis or colitis, regional enteritis, ileitis, or terminal ileitis. Crohn’s disease affects the end of the small intestine called the ileum and the beginning of the large intestine, the colon.
Crohn’s disease begins with small, scattered, shallow, crater–like erosions on the inner surface of the bowel called aphthous ulcers. Over time, the erosions evolve into deep, large ulcers that can puncture holes in the wall of the bowel. These perforations in the bowel release bacteria from within the bowel and can infect adjacent organs and the surrounding abdominal cavity. In addition to causing scarring and stiffness of the bowel, when deep ulcers puncture holes in the walls of the small intestine and the colon, tunnels are created between the intestine and adjacent organs. If the ulcer tunnel reaches an adjacent empty space inside the abdominal cavity, abdominal abscess filled with infected pus may form. Symptoms of abdominal abscesses include tender abdominal masses, high fevers, and abdominal pain. If an ulcer tunnels into an adjacent organ, a channel called a fistula is formed. There are four types of fistulas with distinctive symptoms:
- Enteric–vesicular fistulas: Links the intestine and the bladder and can cause frequent urinary tract infections and the passage of gas and feces during urination
- Asenteric–cutaneous fistulas: Links the intestine and the skin; causes small painful openings on the skin of the abdomen from which pus and mucous are excreted
- Colonic–vaginal fistulas: Links the colon and the vagina causing gas and feces to be excreted through the vagina
- Anal fistulas: Links the intestines to the anus causing a discharge of mucous and pus from an opening around the anus
As the Crohn’s progresses, the bowel will continue to narrow and may become obstructed. When the small intestine narrows to the point of obstruction, the flow of the contents through the intestine ceases and prevents digested food, fluid and gas from the stomach from passing into the colon. Severe abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal distention may result. Obstruction of the small intestine is much more likely since the small intestine is much narrower than the colon.
Crohn’s disease has no medical cure. Once the disease is diagnosed, it tends to fluctuate between periods of inactivity and activity, medically described as remission and relapse.
What Is the Cause and Who Is at Risk for developing Crohn’s Disease?
The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown but researchers generally believe that it results from an interaction between the immune system, inherited genes and environmental factors.
Some scientists suspect that infection by certain bacterias, such as strains of mycobacterium, may be the cause of Crohn’s disease, but to date there has been no convincing evidence to support this theory. In 2001, Nod2, the first gene linked to Crohn’s disease was discovered. This gene is important in determining how the body responds to some bacterial products. Individuals with mutations in this gene are more susceptible to developing Crohn’s disease. A person who is a first degree relative (brother, sister) of a person with IBD has an estimated risk that is at least 30 times greater than the average person. Epidemiologists have gathered enough information to know a good deal about the distribution of IBD in the United States and Western Europe supporting theories about the role of genetics and environment in the development of the disease. The disease appears to affect men and women equally. Adolescents and young adults, between the ages of 20 and 30, are most susceptible to developing Crohn’s, however, onset can occur at any age. Approximately ten percent of individuals afflicted with this condition are younger than age 18 and a spike in the diagnosis of new cases has been shown to occur after age 50. Historically, Crohn’s has been more evident in Caucasian populations, yet, a steady increase in the number of reported cases in the African American community has been noted. American Jews, of European descent, are four to five times more likely than the general population to develop it. For reasons not yet understood, IBD affects people mainly in the developed world, and mostly in the U.S. and Europe. Similarly, reports of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are more common in urban areas versus rural areas and in northern climates versus southern climates. When populations move from underdeveloped to developed countries, the incidence of Crohn’s and IBDs increases; when they move from developed to underdeveloped countries, the incidence decreases.
Although investigation continues to try to find a link between diet and IBD, no connection is yet known to exist. However, dietary modifications, especially during severe flare-ups, may help reduce disease symptoms.
Some of the more serious complications associated with Crohn’s disease include intestinal obstruction, chronic ulcers along the digestive tract, and an increased risk of colon cancer.
Treatment Options For Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
The symptoms of Crohn’s are treated with a variety of drugs:
- Aminosalicylates are anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat mild-to-moderate disease
- Corticosteroids are typically used to treat moderate-to-severe disease
- Immune Modifiers are used to treat moderate-to-severe disease for people who are steroid dependant.
- Antibiotics are used to treat the complication of infections that result from tearing or abscesses in the GI tract
- Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker, a biologic drug, showed some success in treating Crohn’s disease.
Most people with Crohn’s will eventually need surgery. After surgery, half the patients can expect their symptoms to recur within 4 years and 30% will need additional surgery in 5 years.
Insurers Evaluate Risk Factors and Long Term Health Prognosis
Life insurance companies will carefully consider applications of person’s with Crohn’s disease due to the potential long term health complications associated with the condition. When determining a rate for life insurance, insurers will strongly consider the applicant’s age at diagnosis; treatment history, including medications and surgeries; and the stability of the condition including the presence of ongoing symptoms. Individuals who have had surgery may be postponed for 6-12 months; multiple surgeries or ineffective management of symptoms will result in increased charges and may even result in policy decline. The information in your medical records will be vital to illustrating an accurate picture of the severity of your Crohn’s disease, therefore, consistent physician follow up and diagnostic evaluation is necessary for getting a competitive rate for life insurance.
How Can MEG Financial Help?
At MEG Financial, we have worked with many individuals across the country that have had related histories and have helped many obtain fairly priced life insurance. A number of these clients previously attempted to buy life insurance elsewhere but were either turned down or asked to pay a significantly higher rate.
For more specific information or to obtain a custom quote, call MEG Financial today at (877) 583-3955. You may also submit this short form and an independent insurance agent will personally contact you to go over any questions or other concerns.