Will kidney disease make me uninsurable?
The kidneys, or renal system, are responsible for removing wastes from the body, regulating electrolyte balance and blood pressure, and stimulating red blood cell production. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a term that encompasses any disease or disorder that affects the function of the kidneys. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 26 million Americans have CKD; and 20 million more people have diabetes, hypertension and a family history of kidney disease. Groups at high risk for CKD include African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and senior citizens.
Other related medical conditions (or medical terminology) include Chronic Kidney Disease, CKD, Elevated Kidney Functions, Polycystic Kidney Disease, Elevated Renal Functions, and Kidney Stones. Read below for more information about Chronic Kidney Disease and receiving a life insurance quote from a life insurance specialist.
Kidneys – The Body’s Fluid Management System
Kidneys regulate the amount of water in the body and keep other body fluids at a constant concentration and acid base level. The kidneys filter the blood supply, removing drugs and toxins, and excrete waste products and excess water from the body as urine. They regulate blood pressure, body water and other chemicals in the blood including sodium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. They also release hormones into the blood stream and generate red blood cells.
Abnormalities in kidney function, renal insufficiency, can lead to systemic problems in the body. Although the kidneys are susceptible to a wide variety of disorders, one normal kidney can successfully do the work of two. Kidney disease is seldom life threatening unless both kidneys are affected by kidney disease or trauma.
What Is Chronic Kidney Disease?
CKD is the name given to conditions that damage the kidneys and affect their ability to maintain good overall health. Acute renal failure often occurs due to severe injury, obstruction to the flow of urine due to a kidney stone, bladder tumor or enlarged prostate gland. Chronic renal failure may develop silently, over a long period of time, before becoming symptomatic. It can often lead to irreversible damage and progress to an advanced disease state called end state renal failure. In such cases, dialysis or kidney transplants are the only treatment options to enable a person to live a near normal lifestyle. Early detection and treatment of kidney disease can often prevent it from progressing. Complications such as high blood pressure, anemia (low blood count), weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage can result from kidney disease which then puts a person at increased risk for developing heart and blood vessel disease. Several medical conditions that negatively affect the kidneys are:
- Diabetes: Elevated blood sugar levels associated cause damage to organs in the body including the kidneys, heart, blood vessels, nerves and eyes. Diabetes, along with hypertension, is responsible for two thirds of all CKD cases.
- Hypertension: Uncontrolled or poorly controlled high blood pressure occurs when the pressure of blood against the walls of the blood vessels increases. It is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease. Conversely, chronic kidney disease can also cause high blood pressure.
- Glomerulonephritis: A group of diseases that cause inflammation and damage to the kidney’s filtering units, negatively affecting their ability to remove waste products, salts and water from the blood stream, is the most common cause of chronic renal insufficiency/failure. Mild forms of the disease are often asymptomatic and are discovered when routine physical or insurance exam blood work is examined and urinalysis is done. Abnormal findings are called:
- Hematuria: Red blood cells in urine
- Proteinuria/Albuminuria: Higher than normal levels of protein or albumin in the urine. Minute levels of albumin are the most common protein reported in urinalysis. Proteinuria can be caused by acute or chronic glomerulonephritis; nephrosis; arteriolar nephrosclerosis; Kimmelstiel Wilson’s disease; collagen disease; kidney stone, kidney tumor; kidney infection; hydronephrosis; polycystic kidney disease (PKD); heart disease; hypertension; congenital abnormalities; drug use or abuse. Though not an absolute marker for kidney disease, proteinuria can indicate the presence of other problematic conditions, so findings of it normally warrant further investigation.
Glomerulonephritis can develop over time, causing symptoms such as puffiness of the soft tissues around the eye ball, elevated blood pressure and/or a significant decrease in urine production or it may reveal itself suddenly with a severe attack that results in kidney failure within days. Glomerulonephritis is the third most common type of kidney disease.
- Polycystic kidney disease (PKD): An inherited condition that causes numerous cysts to form in the kidneys. Cysts may also occur in the liver, pancreas, spleen, ovaries and testes. Symptoms include abdominal swelling, pain, blood in the urine and frequent urinary tract infections and usually occur in gene carriers by age 35. It is a progressive condition that will destroy kidney tissue and lead to end-stage renal disease. There is no cure for PKD, but quality medical care and compliance, including dialysis or kidney transplant, can extend life expectancy considerably.
- Developmental malformations: Medical conditions that occur as a baby develops in utero.
- Lupus and auto immune diseases: Conditions that negatively affect the body’s immune system.
- Kidney Stones: A solid mass, made up of tiny crystals, develops when urine contains too much of certain substances. They can be found in the kidney, ureter and bladder. The composition of the stones, also referred to as calculi, depends upon several factors. Calcium stones, the most common and likely to reoccur, can combine with other substances, such as oxalate (the most common substance), phosphate, or carbonate to form stones. Oxalate comes from certain foods and diseases of the small intestine increase the risk of forming calcium oxalate stones. Cystine stones can form in people who have cystinuria, a genetic disorder that runs in families and affects both men and women. Struvite stones are mainly found in women who have urinary tract infections. They can grow very large and can block the kidney, ureter, or bladder. Uric acid stones are more common in men than in women and can occur with gout or chemotherapy. Other substances also can form stones. Bladder stones, are almost exclusively seen in men, and are often the result of a long-term urinary tract infection or an obstruction to the flow of urine from the bladder.
- Urinary tract infections
The Affect of CKD on Life Insurance Applications
When an insurance company exam reveals abnormal laboratory findings with regard to CKD, be prepared to undergo an extensive battery of kidney function tests. Insurers will initially ask for two additional urine samples, to be given on two different days. If the findings, for one or both of these tests, are abnormal, a 24-hour urine test may be requested. In certain cases, a kidney or renal biopsy may even become necessary. Different lab results will elicit different responses from insurers due to the varied nature of CKD:
- If proteinuria or hematuria is evident, most companies will request two additional urine samples, taken on different days, to be tested. If the findings come back without additional evidence of abnormality, the application will continue to be processed. If one or both studies are abnormal, the degree of abnormality will determine whether insurance will be offered or whether the applicant will be requested to pursue the findings with his or her personal physician. If serious kidney disease is suspected, an applicant will need to undergo additional testing with a specialist and present the findings before the application process can continue.
- In instances of acute glomerulonephritis, where the progression to renal failure may be rapid, insurance offers will be postponed until the condition can be stabilized.
- In instances of chronic glomerulonephritis, insurers will evaluate the applicant’s condition over a period of years by reviewing the history of kidney function test results and related tests to determine if the condition has been stabilized.
- The presence of kidney stones, unless they are large, recurrent and require serious intervention, will not prove problematic to insurers.
- The presence of multiple kidney stones on a recurrent basis, or stones that require an invasive medical intervention may result in insurance offered at a higher rate.
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. Our experience helping others with related problems is invaluable to you in identifying the insurance company that will treat you most fairly.
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.