Gastric bypass is a godsend for people struggling with morbid obesity. Those unable to lose weight through diet and exercise can greatly benefit from this procedure. Yet many people don’t stop to consider the effect gastric bypass surgery will have on life insurance.
Because obesity is considered an adverse health condition by insurance underwriters, gastric bypass patients sometimes have more difficulty finding affordable plans..
This article will help you find the best life insurance after a gastric bypass or other kind of weight loss surgery.
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How Obesity Affects Life Insurance
Just over 70% of American adults are overweight or obese.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, roughly 38% of American adults are obese, and around 8% are considered morbidly obese.
Dozens of factors contribute to this “obesity epidemic.” The American Heart Association lists the top causes of obesity as:
- Family history of obesity
- Poor eating habits
- Lifestyle choices
- Low income
- Overall attitude and mental state
Children, in particular, are at a high risk for obesity. Poor eating habits and an unhealthy lifestyle in their early years are difficult to amend when they become adults.
Obesity directly contributes to a number of serious health conditions, which are a concern for life insurance companies.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute lists the top health problems caused by obesity as:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Fatty Liver Disease (nonalcoholic)
- Cancer (especially breast, colon, kidney, and endometrial)
What is Gastric Bypass?
The first line treatment for obesity is changes to eating habits and lifestyle. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the key to maintaining a healthy weight. Prescription weight loss medications are another option.
Yet sometimes the weight still won’t come off. If this is the case for you, your doctor might recommend gastric bypass.
According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, over 250,000 Americans received bariatric surgery, including gastric bypass, in 2018 and 2019. The long-term results show the majority of patients are able to keep the weight off.
Gastric bypass surgery consists of two main steps. The first actually makes the stomach smaller with a stapling technique.
It’s separated into two sections—a smaller section where food will go and a larger section which is separated from the food supply.
The second step is to connect the small stomach section to the small intestine. This allows food to travel from your stomach to your intestines with ease.
The procedure changes the way your body handles food. Your stomach is smaller so it takes less food to fill.
The surgery also changes the way calories are processed by your body.
The procedure isn’t without risks, which include:
- Allergic reaction to medications
- Bleeding, blood clots, blood infections
- Injury to stomach, intestines, and other organs
- Leaking between stomach separations
- Scarring inside stomach
Applying for Life Insurance After Gastric Bypass
The fact is, life insurance companies hesitate to take on high-risk clients. Those struggling with health conditions, like obesity, pose a risk to these companies.
It’s particularly difficult to qualify for a good policy if you’re overweight or obese.
Insurance companies look at obesity as a major contributor to other serious health problems. Even when weight loss qualifies you for a reduction in premium, a percentage is added back on in the first year or two to account for relapses in diet or exercise.
During the application process, most insurance underwriters calculate your BMI (body mass index) and compare it to a chart organized by risk.
If your BMI falls into a high-risk zone, you’re automatically knocked into a lower life insurance classification.
Having had gastric bypass surgery recently doesn’t do much to help. Though your weight and BMI might be lower, underwriters tend to look at your weight/BMI over time.
They want to ensure your current weight hasn’t fluctuated more than 10 pounds in the past year or two. It’s all about stability and consistency. They want to see a lifestyle change, period.
Keep these factors in mind when applying for life insurance.
Other information you can expect to be asked about includes:
- Your overall health, including any other health conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes
- A healthy diet and regular exercise
- The procedure date for your gastric bypass or weight loss surgery
- Any complications related to your surgery and the steps you’ve taken to resolve them
- A list of medications you’re taking related to the surgery or for any other health problems
- Your pre-operative weight
- Your weight loss history
- Your weight stability, or how well you’ve kept the weight off post-surgery
What Kind of Rate You Can Expect
Underwriting for gastric bypass is complicated.
There are a lot of variables, so the results are all over the board.
Most new gastric bypass patients will receive a Sub-Standard rating.
The insurance company considers recent patients high risk. Your policy will likely have a higher premium and special restrictions.
If it’s been several years since your surgery and you were successful in keeping the weight off, a Standard rate may be more likely, barring no other complications or health concerns.
Fortunately, most companies let you reapply for new ratings every few years.
The longer you maintain a healthy weight and prove good overall health, the better the chance you’ll receive a higher rating with a lower premium.
For the best results, contact us with any questions you may have, or start the process of finding what’s available to you by getting a quote.