Shopping for life insurance, but getting hung up on whether you can be approved with elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA)? PSA levels naturally increase as you age, so it’s a common question.
When you’re looking for life insurance, it’s important to make sure the underwriters understand your specific situation. Your elevated PSA levels could mean a high risk for the carrier. However, they could also mean absolutely nothing.
This article will give you the facts behind elevated PSA so you can get the best policy for your health and life situation.
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A PSA test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen you have in your blood. It may be used along with other screening methods, such as a digital rectal exam, to check for cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, many health professionals recommend regular PSA screenings for men starting when they turn 50. However, studies are showing the test may not be necessary for men who don’t have other prostate symptoms.
People who have prostate cancer may have high PSA levels. However, the test often returns false negatives. That means someone with cancer may get test results indicating low PSA levels. The test may also return false positives, indicating high levels when your levels are actually normal.
Some factors which can increase your PSA levels are:
- Enlarged Prostate: benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when your prostate is enlarged, is common as men age, and is not associated with cancer
- Prostatitis: if your prostate is inflamed or infected, you could have elevated PSA
- Ejaculation: men’s PSA increases within 48 hours after ejaculation
- Age: PSA levels naturally rise as men age
A high PSA level on its own is not a diagnosis of any medical condition.
According to Very Well, if your PSA levels are high and you don’t have symptoms of prostate cancer, the PSA test will be repeated.
If the results are still abnormal, you will probably be asked to repeat the test on a regular basis to evaluate whether levels are rising. If you have symptoms of prostate cancer, your doctor will probably recommend a biopsy.
Research shows there is not necessarily a normal upper threshold level of PSA, although many health care providers consider 4.0 ng/mL or lower to be reasonable.
Generally, men with prostate cancer do have higher levels of PSA. Elevated PSA which continues to rise over time could also be a sign of prostate cancer.
Because elevated PSA could be indicative of so many medical conditions (or none at all), the test alone should not prevent you from obtaining life insurance.
Underwriters who are not willing to look at your individual case may see a PSA that’s higher than 4.0 ng/mL and postpone your approval until they have enough evidence to conclude the state of your health. Others may request you have your prostate biopsied, if that procedure wasn’t already completed.
However, the National Cancer Institute also explains a biopsy is not necessary or even safe for everyone. Even for people who do have cancer, treating a tumor which isn’t causing symptoms is often considered overtreatment.
If you don’t get a biopsy, some underwriters ask you to wait a year before reapplying. You can have your PSA levels checked throughout the year to make sure they’re not continuing to rise.
If you don’t want to wait a year for life insurance just because you have elevated PSA, you’ll want to work with a life insurance company who understands how to work with you.
A life insurance carrier will consider the following when you apply with elevated PSA:
- Dates and results of multiple PSA tests
- PSA density and velocity
- Results from any biopsies
- Presence of prostate cancer symptoms
- Diagnosis of cancer
- Your current age
- Medications you’re taking
Although the American Cancer Society reports an estimated 248,500 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. in 2021, only about 34,000 people will die from the disease.
Because prostate cancer grows slowly and is extremely survivable, it’s one of the easiest cancers to underwrite for life insurance.
Even if cancer is diagnosed following a PSA test, most health professionals recommend waiting before treating early-stage cancer.
The common insurance ratings assigned to people with elevated PSA levels vary greatly between different life insurance companies. While some companies don’t consider elevated levels to be a high risk, others would prefer to see the results of a biopsy before approving you.
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, many companies will approve you if you are over age 70 and your doctor has recommended you simply monitor the condition over time.
Those over 70 are less likely to die from prostate cancer than from other conditions. Therefore, prostate cancer doesn’t necessarily increase your mortality risk at this age.
If you are over age 60 and your PSA level has dropped to 0.5 after treatment for prostate cancer, you can still be approved, too.
If you’re over age 50 and have had a prostatectomy, you will be approved if your PSA level is 0.
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer after having elevated PSA levels, and if you can show it is developing slowly, you’ll typically receive a life insurance table rating of between 2 and 6.
Table ratings are assigned to people with elevated risk factors who don’t qualify for a standard health class rating.
A table rating of 2 will increase the premium by 50% more than the standard payment. A table rating of 6 will increase the premium by 150%.
Your best option for getting life insurance with an elevated PSA level is to document every test and exam you undergo. Record the dates and proceedings of your doctors’ visits, and make sure you can demonstrate you are taking care of your health.
If you can minimize other risks by improving your health and lifestyle, you’re more likely to get a favorable rating.
An experienced life insurance agent can help you find the right policy regardless of your elevated PSA levels.
Elevated levels alone won’t tell the underwriters much about your health, and an insurance agent knows this.
The life insurance company will need to know more about your medical history before assigning a rating or approving you. An agent can help you construct your case accordingly.
Agents are familiar with this and many other health conditions and can help you get approved under a variety of circumstances.
Independent insurance agents also work with a variety of companies, which will help you get the best policy at the lowest rate.