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  • How Does Having An Eating Disorder Impact My Life Insurance
  • May 22, 2017
  • eating disorder life insurance

    Children are impressionable and they absorb the world around them. Depending on the messages they receive, those messages can have a devastating effect on their self-esteem. Not surprisingly, when it comes to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating, the problem often starts when children reach puberty. If left untreated, it’s not uncommon for an eating disorder to follow adolescents well into their late teens and early adulthood, according to a non-profit support and prevention group for people suffering from an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA),

    A person with an eating disorder has a distorted view of their body image which develops into an obsessive fear of gaining weight. In order to avoid becoming obese or fat, they engage in starvation rituals that result in dangerously low body weight.

    Individuals with eating disorders have many methods of losing weight; they binge eat, purge food through vomiting, abuse diuretics or diet pills, and exercise excessively. All of these methods can have a dramatic impact on their future health.

    It was once thought that women were at the highest risk for acquiring an eating disorder, but it’s a problem for men as well. NEDA reported that nearly 20 million females and 10 million males are currently suffering from an eating disorder.

    The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), reports that one in three people who diet regularly are at a greater risk of developing an eating disorder.

    Data published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in April 2009, showed that eating disorder-related hospitalizations for adults of both genders have increased 18 percent,  while less common eating disorders rose 38 percent from 1999 to 2006.

    If you have an eating disorder while applying for  life insurance, you may face some complications of getting some or any life insurance. The impact an eating disorder has on the body can be devastating, which is why insurers cast a wary eye on people who have had a history of eating disorders.

    Health Consequences of Eating Disorders


    Slow heart rate and low blood pressure, resulting in heart failure
    Dry brittle bones
    Tooth erosion
    Muscle loss and weakness
    Fainting, serious fatigue
    Low white blood cell count
    Dry hair and skin
    The growth of fine, light hair (lanugo), which is an attempt by the body to keep warm

    Severe electrolyte imbalances leading to irregular heartbeat and the potential for heart failure
    Gastric rupture resulting from binging
    Rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting
    Esophageal cancer
    Tooth decay from excessive vomiting and the release of stomach acid
    Irregular bowel movements and constipation from laxative abuse
    Peptic ulcers

    The over consumption of food can result in the following:
    High blood pressure
    High cholesterol
    Heart disease
    Type II diabetes
    Gallbladder disease

    Source: National Eating Disorders Association


    “There are all kinds of medical problems that go along with being malnourished, ranging from heart disease and kidney failure to osteoporosis,” says Dr. Ann Hoven, medical director for The Hartford. “Anorexia in particular has a very high mortality rate that disproportionately strikes young people. It is most troubling because young people don’t expect to die. Anorexia is one of the greater concerns for insurers because successful treatment requires inpatient hospitalization for an extended period of time. It also carries a high recidivism rate because anorexics often fall back into old patterns.”

    Anorexia carries the highest death rate of any mental illness and is one of the most frequent psychiatric diagnoses in young women. NEDA reports that between five and 20 percent of people who develop anorexia eventually die from it.

    And it’s expensive to treat.

    The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders (ANAD)/ estimates that the monthly cost of inpatient treatment is $30,000 or more a month and the cost of outpatient treatment can exceed $100,000 depending on the duration of care.

    “In order to recover fully from anorexia, most patients need inpatient hospitalization for an extended period of time. There is a great deal of treatment involved to cure someone of anorexia,” says Hoven. “Most insurers require at least a year of stability before they will issue a policy to someone who has an eating disorder.”

    Ed Hinerman, owner of Hinerman Group in Salida, Colo., says depending on the amount of time involved, most people who have struggled with an eating disorder can get a policy at a preferred rate.

    “Often people think that insurers run screaming into the night when presented with someone with an eating disorder, but that is not the case. Depending on the length of time from when the problem was first diagnosed, it is not unheard of for someone to get preferred rates,” says Hinerman. “An insurer looks for whether the person has been in a support group and for how long, in addition to how often they are seeing a psychologist. There would have to be no relapse and they would have to have good follow-up from a doctor and present a pattern of maintaining a healthy weight. For preferred rates you would have to show at least five years of stability from the time when the disorder was cured.”

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