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Van's Blog ~ AskAFinancialAdviser.com

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May 2016

Seven Steps to Better Sleep

How to get sleep apnea under control and reduce your life insurance rates too.

Life can be shortened by the simplest of things, like the lack of sleep. We all need sleep and one of the most common reasons people lose sleep is obstructive sleep apnea. This is a condition where a person’s throat closes off for brief periods of time while they sleep. It may be for a few seconds or even minutes. A person that has sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring, pausing breathing during sleep and gasping for air. Children can have sleep apnea can too, and the symptoms are less pronounced. These disruptions of the body during sleep interferes with the quality of sleep. I have sleep apnea and before treatment, one of the most significant aspects of the disorder for me was feeling tired all of the time. Before finding out that sleep apnea was my sleep problem, I could sleep for nine or ten hours and still feel exhausted. I did not realize that my body was not getting to a deeply relaxed state that is necessary for good health. Constantly my body was struggling for air, and I would wake up just enough to breath, then drift off to sleep again.

Sleep apnea is one of the causes of many physical problems and diseases. High blood pressure, weight control, some forms of cancer and many more ailments are related to sleep apnea. Most people want to live long happy lives. If you are a parent, you want to live to see your children be parents. Sleep apnea can shorten your life. If you are a parent, you are a provider for your family. Your family would struggle financially without you.

If you have sleep apnea, it will affect your ability to obtain life insurance. If you take proper measures to control the problem, there are life insurance companies that will offer you life insurance coverage at good rates. Most importantly, it will improve your life and give you a better chance of living longer.

To give sleep apnea suffers a chance at a longer life and the opportunity to obtain life insurance, they must take two vital steps. First, get your sleep apnea under control. Second, prove to the right life insurance company that you do have your sleep apnea under control. When it comes to cost, not all life insurance companies consider sleep apnea in the same way. Some life insurance companies avoid people with sleep apnea by either denying them coverage or offering coverage at high rates. Some life insurance companies see sleep apnea as an opportunity to help an underserved group of people by giving clear guidelines for providing life insurance coverage.

If you want to get your sleep apnea under control here are seven steps to follow that will help you and give you the best opportunity to obtain life insurance coverage at the lowest price. FYI, the seven steps do take time and it is probably the best route to improve your health. However, if you need life insurance now, skip to the P.S. at the end of this post and then come back to here to learn how to improve your health.

  1. Step one, see your physician to determine if a sleep study is necessary. If your doctor suggests a sleep study, don’t ignore it. The record of his recommendation will be in your medical file. If you have decided to not have the sleep study done, you may be declined for life insurance or offered a very high price.
  2. Step two, after the sleep study is done confirm that the results are in your physician’s file.
  3. Step three, follow-up with your doctor to get his or her recommendations for controlling your sleep apnea.
    • Use a CPAP machine, lose weight, control blood pressure, take medication, etc. or
    • Surgery to correct the sleep apnea is a possibility. If you have surgery, there is a different route for showing that your sleep apnea is under control.
      • You must see the surgeon, have the surgery and the show active follow-up to that surgery.
  4. Step four, you are fitted for a CPAP machine, purchase it and begin to use it. Showing that you have bought the CPAP machine is important. If you have the sleep study, have the CPAP prescription and stop here you may be declined.
  5. Step five is follow-up with your physician when he or she suggest. When you get a CPAP machine, it may take some getting used to and you will probably be in communication with the sleep study lab technicians with questions. That correspondence will be in your file and that is good, it shows that you are using the machine.
  6. Step six is continued follow-up with your physician to track results. You began the process of solving your sleep problem with a physician consultation. By the third follow-up you can determine if the CPAP therapy has improved your sleep. Are you sleeping better? How has it affected your weight and blood pressure? All of this information will be in your doctor’s file the life insurance company will review in considering to offer you a life insurance policy.
  7. Step seven is on-going maintenance. If you have sleep apnea and it has been a few years, good compliance is represented by ongoing doctor consultations. After some time, another sleep study may be recommended. This follow-up step will depend on your condition and your doctor’s approach toward helping you manage your sleep apnea. You may be prescribed to have a sleep study done every year, or it may be every four years. Whatever the procedure is, be sure to follow-through.

Considerations on the sleep study.

When you go for a sleep study it is because you are having some problem with your sleep. At first, the results of that sleep study will not show your condition under control, it will show your current condition. Do not worry about the results of that study, the most important consideration is that you have had a sleep study completed. How you follow-up will determine how the life insurance company views your sleep apnea.

Once you have your sleep apnea under control to the best of your ability, it is time to take steps to protect your family financially if you were to die. How much life insurance you need is an important part of buying life insurance? I have a terrific tool on my website that is free and will help your find that number. You can find that tool through this link.  https://www.insurenowdirect.com/advice_4_lifeinsurance_houston/Calculator.aspx

Finding the right life insurance company.

Once you have this figure, it is time to find a life insurance company. There are 6,118 life insurance companies in the United States and not all of them consider sleep apnea in the same way (NAIC, 2015). To give you an idea of how life insurance companies approach offering life insurance to sleep apnea suffers, I will highlight the process that my top company recommendation goes through for applicants who have sleep apnea.

Knowing which of the 6,118 life insurance companies to buy is one of the reasons people chose my services (NAIC, 2015). That knowledge has come from years of experience and is one of my competitive edges. For that reason, I do not disclose the actual name of the life insurance company. When you decide to use my services, I will give you lots of information to help you select the best life insurance company that will offer you coverage at the best price. For now, let’s call this company Number One Life Insurance

This is the top company that I recommend to clients who have sleep apnea. Number One Life Insurance has a system of analyzing life insurance applicants. They have created a benchmark classification system. If an applicant has an adverse health condition such as being overweight or if they have a negative lifestyle habit such as hang-gliding, the applicant will be assigned points. The more points assigned, the higher the premium. You can have points reduced with positive health behavior. With Number One Life Insurance, sleep apnea is a condition that can play in your favor if you are managing your condition. For example, if you are overweight you are assigned points, use of a CPAP machine to control sleep apnea takes points off.

Number One Life Insurance has taken a negative health condition and made it a positive. Remember lower points means a lower premium. Here are a few specific situations in which Number One Life Insurance may take points off. The first positive is if you have a sleep study available. Another way that Number One Life Insurance would reduce your points would be a follow-up exam with your doctor that shows a weight loss or lower blood pressure reading after use of the CPAP machine.

In conclusion.

If you have sleep apnea, it takes an effort to control it. Documenting the steps you have taken to control your condition will be evident in your medical records. It will be very helpful in this process if the life insurance agent you are working with writes a cover letter to accompany your application which details all of the steps above. I do this for every client, and it makes a big difference in communicating with the life insurance company. Your application paperwork gives facts, and the cover letter serves as a road map to your health management. If you clearly communicate how you are controlling your health, that action will give the life insurance company a better understanding and hopefully show that your health is not an adverse risk. Controlling sleep apnea not only means you will get better consideration for life insurance rates, the most important aspect is that your quality of life will improve.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog,

Van Richards

P.S.

If you’d like to use my service to find the best life insurance policy at the best price for you, start by requesting a quote. Additionally, the seven steps do take time. If you need life insurance now, you may be able to apply for a guaranteed issue policy that does not require so much reporting. It will be more expensive. This may be a short term solution until you can apply to a company like Number One Life Insurance. Remember that is not the real name of the company.

Get a Quote Now

References

National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2015). State report cards. Retrieved May 23, 2016, from http://www.naic.org/state_report_cards/report_card_wa.pdf

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Sleep = Life

An alarming number of children and athletes have sleep apnea risk.

          We all sleep. The quality of sleep affects every aspect of our life. What would your day be like if you had an extra hour of sleep? How do you think children would act with an extra hour of sleep? Sleep affects adult work performance and children’s learning ability in school. Lack of sleep accounts for about 83,000 car crashes every year (NHTSA, n.d.) Sleep disorders are linked to a wide variety of health conditions from depression to high blood pressure to increasing the risk of Parkinson’s disease (NIH, 2011). Sleep even affects the cost we pay for life insurance.

          By increasing your quality of sleep, you can give yourself that feeling of extra sleep and improve your future health. Common thought is that we all need about seven hours of sleep per night, some people can get along with less, and children need more. A quick look at some of the reasons people don’t sleep or do not sleep well can help you understand how to get better rest and improve your life. Three areas affect sleep:

  • Physical – what is going on inside the body affects sleep.
  • Mental – how a person thinks does have an impact on sleep.
  • Environmental – sound, temperature, lighting, smell, and touch affect sleep.

            The details of these three areas are the subjects of extensive studies that continue to develop every day. Let’s look a little deeper at the physical aspect of sleep. If you improve what is going on inside your body, your sleep will improve. One of the most prevalent physical conditions that affect men and women is sleep apnea. Suffers from sleep apnea pause or stop breathing while sleeping. The pause in breathing can range from seconds to minutes. The condition is not limited by age; sleep apnea occurs in infants, children, and adults.

            There are several types of sleep apnea however obstructive sleep apnea is the most common.   With this condition, “the airway repeatedly becomes blocked, limiting the amount of air that reaches your lungs” (AASM, n.d.). Obstructive sleep apnea sufferers are often loud snorers and wake up frequently gasping for air. I have obstructive sleep apnea and in the first sleep study I had done, I woke up over 100 times. I never consciously knew this was happening, I only knew that I was always tired.

            The first time I met someone that had sleep apnea, it was a middle-aged friend that was overweight. I thought to myself, thank goodness that is not me. I am not overweight, and I would never use one of those machines with a mask at night. Oh, how cruel time can be. I still don’t consider myself overweight, but according to the Body Mass Index or BMI, I am overweight. However, the validity of the BMI is a topic for another day.

            What led up to my sleep apnea diagnosis seemed to be typical for sleep apnea sufferers: I snored loudly, my wife told me that I would stop snoring then suddenly gasp for air, and I was tired all the time. I could sleep for eight or nine hours and still be tired. By that time, learning to adjust to wearing a sleep mask seemed to be a small price to pay if I could get back that fresh feeling of a good night sleep.

            Most people accept the importance of sleep. The prevalence of sleep apnea has grown for two reasons. First, Americans are getting less sleep. “In 2005, the National Sleep Foundation stated that 16% of Americans say they sleep less than six hours a night, compared with 12% in 1998” (UCLA, 2016). The second reason there seems to be more people with sleep apnea is there are more professionals and facilities to help identify and treat all those sleepy people. Since its establishment in 1975, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine or “AASM has expanded membership to over 11,000 accredited member sleep centers and individual members, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals” (AASM, About, 2016).

            From its initial diagnosis in 1981, sleep apnea has been a disease that is associated with overweight middle-aged men (Sullivan, Issa, Berthon-Jones, and Eves, 1981). Through extensive research, an alarming number of children and athletes have been identified to have the similar symptoms of the typical sleep apnea suffer. The recognized trend in tiredness and the identification of cognitive impairments such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD has led sleep scientist to connect sleep apnea to as many as 25% of children that have ADHD (ASAA, 2016). Additionally, many athletes in the NFL, NBA, and MLB have been identified with sleep apnea (George, Kab, & Levy, 2003; MacMullan, 2016; Russell, 2016).

            Most recently, Texas Ranger’s first baseman, Prince Fielder disclosed his struggles with sleep apnea, and in 2015 Cleveland Indian’s Mike Napoli had surgery to cope with sleep apnea (Russell, 2016). Dr. Andrea Natale, a cardiologist, and consultant for the NBA, points out that because of their size, NBA players have a “genetic predisposition, [of] being overweight, sleep apnea and hypertension” (MacMullan,2016).

            There are many reasons children can have sleep apnea. They may have enlarged adenoids, swollen tonsils or they just may be large children. If your child is having trouble breathing while they sleep, talk to your pediatrician. It may be sleep apnea, or it may be:

  • Another sleep disorder
  • A medical condition
  • Medication use
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse (AASM, Children,2016)

Symptoms of a sleep disorder in children may not be the same as in adults. As previously mentioned studies have indicated that as many as 25% of children with ADHD do show sleep disorder symptoms. The first step to proper control of a child’s sleep disorder is guidance from your doctor.

            For adults and children, the key to living with sleep apnea is early detection and after a diagnosis proactive management. If you think that you have a sleep disorder, I cannot say it enough, the first place to go is your doctor. After talking with my doctor about always feeling tired and loud snoring, his recommendation was to have a sleep study. Treatment of sleep disorders can offer some relief with other health conditions. In my case, after the sleep study, not only did I feel more rested, but over time, it helped me control my blood pressure and lose weight. I began managing my sleep apnea by using a continuous positive airway pressure machine or CPAP machine. The sleep lab I went to helped me with the fit and ongoing maintenance. Your doctor can best help you determine a solution for your sleep problem.

            Your doctor will probably recommend a sleep lab for your test. I did not go with my doctor’s recommendation at first. I thought I’d try to find a cheaper alternative closer to my home. It was like a cheap motel and a bad experience. I had to have the test redone and went with my doctor’s recommendations. The second location was much better. It was quieter; each room had a private restroom and the staff seemed to understand what needed to be done much better.

            If you have questions about finding a sleep lab, here are a few things to keep in mind. Ask if the sleep clinic has accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine? The standards that the AASM requires of members seems to make a difference. To me, it seems to be the gold standard of sleep labs. Check to see if the sleep clinic you are considering is in your health insurance network, it will make a big difference in cost. Ask if they offer patient education, follow-ups as well as on-going monitoring. Also a point I felt was very important, will they allow you to visit their clinic.

            About every three to six months you will need to replace part of your CPAP machine. It makes a difference in fit and hygiene. A leaky mask will allow you to snore and you lose the benefits of the CPAP machine. If you are using a dental appliance, regularly check with your dentist.

            Losing weight can help you to manage your sleep apnea too. Talk to your family members. If they notice you snoring through the mask or still continuing to gasp for air as you sleep, contact your sleep technician for further help.

            For many people, having a sleep disorder does affect the ability to obtain life insurance. I have addressed the growing problem of children who have sleep disorders. In addressing life insurance, this is not an encouragement to get life insurance for a child. People do not need to have a significant amount of life insurance on their children. There is no reason. However, a small amount of life insurance is always a prudent step. In most cases, this can be easily and cheaply accomplished by adding what is called a rider on to an adult life insurance policy.

            For those who are looking for life insurance, finding a life insurance company that is willing to consider active sleep disorder management as a positive attribute in considering you for a life insurance policy is important. There are life insurance companies that will look at your sleep disorder as an incurable disease and will deny you a life insurance policy. It is important to avoid a denial if at all possible because when you apply for other life or disability insurance, there will be a question that asks if you have ever been declined coverage for any reason. If you have to answer, yes that can cause a problem with the application. You do not want to lie; you want to avoid having the insurance denial altogether.

            The best way to prevent a denial is to submit an informal inquiry. An informal inquiry is where we take all of your health history information and anonymously submit that to several life insurance companies. Without disclosing who you are the life insurance companies will look at your circumstance and tell us if they are willing to consider a person with your health history. Also, they will say what they expect the cost will be. You can take advantage of the best offer that is made. This process gets you the best life insurance policy at the best possible price without having to bounce between life insurance companies. It is also the best way to avoid a denial for sleep apnea. Could you still be denied? Yes. This is not a foolproof process. However, if we can completely answer all of the questions up front and there are no unexpected circumstances, it is your best chance. It is the best process because you are getting the benefit of shopping many different life insurance companies at the same time.

            If you have health concerns, you will need guidance in the application process. I have been helping customers find life insurance coverage to protect their families for twenty-eight years. I’d be honored to begin helping you. The best way to begin is by completing the quote request form on our website, or you can call, email or text too.

Thank you,

Van Richards

Get a quote now.

 

 

References

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (n.d.). Sleep apnea overview and facts – sleep education. Retrieved from http://www.sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/sleep-apnea

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2016). About the AASM. Retrieved from http://www.aasmnet.org/aboutaasm.aspx

American Sleep Apnea Association. (2016). Children’s sleep apnea. Retrieved from http://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/childrens-sleep-apnea.html

George, C. F., Kab, V., & Levy, A. M. (2003). Increased prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing among professional football players. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(4), 367-368. doi:10.1056/nejm200301233480422

MacMullan, J. (2016, February 29). Larry bird will die young. just ask him. ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/14712117/larry-bird-believes-nba-big-men-die-young-right

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.). Research on drowsy driving. Retrieved from http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Drowsy+Driving

National Institutes of Health. (2011). 2011 nhi sleep disorders research plan (NIH Publication No. 11-7820). Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/resources/sleep/201101011NationalSleepDisordersResearchPlanDHHSPublication11-7820.pdf

Russell, J. (2016, March 11). Rangers slugger prince fielder diagnosed with ‘extreme’ sleep apnea. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/03/11/rangers-slugger-prince-fielder-disagnosed-with-extreme-sleep-apnea/

Sullivan CE, Issa FG, Berthon-Jones M, Eves L (April 1981). Reversal of obstructive sleep apnoea by continuous positive airway pressure applied through the nares. Lancet 1 (8225): 862–5. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(81)92140-1.

UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. (2016). Sleep medicine growth and trends. Retrieved May 8, 2016, from http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=37

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep Disorders and Life Insurance

I stopped breathing over 100 times during my first sleep study. My general physician was the one who suggested a sleep study. He said it might offer some solutions to my health problems. My blood pressure was difficult to control, I was constantly tired and I snored. I tried to control my hypertension with diet and medication but that had mixed results. I found that having a sleep study was a turning point in my health.

You may find that controlling your health by improving your sleep will not only give you a renewed sense of living, but it will also get you better life insurance rates. If you are looking for life insurance and have sleep disorders, you should understand that life insurance companies want to give better rates to people who are trying to control their health.   If you are still struggling to get an upper hand on your sleep problems, there is hope for getting life insurance at a reasonable cost.

Here are four points that may lead you to better health and better life insurance rates.

  1. Sleep apnea may be the sleep problem that most people are familiar with, however sleep disorders encompass a wide variety of conditions such as “hypertension, cognitive impairment[..]restless legs syndrome [..] depression, substance abuse, and impaired waking function [..] narcolepsy [..] increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions[..] increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, motor vehicle crashes, and difficulty adhering to school and work schedules” (NIH 2011).
  2. I have sleep apnea and have been using a CPAP machine every night for the past eight years. It has made a profound difference in the way I feel. When I was trying to find a solution to my sleep problems here a few things that I learned:
    • Talk to your doctor. He or she will be the best one to help you get started. Reading blogs like mine is great, but there is no substitute for your own doctor.
    • Ask your doctor if he or she can recommend a sleep clinic. Do not pick a sleep clinic because it’s the cheapest. I made that mistake. I thought I could find a cheap clinic close to my home. It was horrible, it was like a cheap motel. The rooms were very small, the walls were paper thin so you could hear everything, including other people snoring and the technicians talking. And there was one bathroom for the entire clinic. After the first night, they said I’d have to come back for a second night at a significantly higher price for more testing. Yea no, I don’t think so. So I ended up going with my doctor’s recommendation.
    • The second clinic was so much better. It had individual rooms that were like a nice hotel. Each room had its own bathroom. I found that selecting a sleep clinic that had accreditation through the American Academy of Sleep Medicine made a big difference.
    • Check to see if the sleep clinic you are considering is in your health insurance network, it will make a big difference in cost. Ask if they offer patient education, follow-ups as well as monitoring and will they allow you to visit their clinic.
  3. Life insurance companies want the same thing that you do. You want low rates, they want to give you low rates, yes they do! If you’re healthy, you have less chance of dying. If you’re healthy you get lower rates. Solving your sleep problems will help you improve your health.
  4. Not all life insurance companies are the same. Some life insurance companies have strict guidelines and some of them are more open to considering clients with a sleep disorder. If you use my services to find life insurance, let me know that you have a sleep disorder in the beginning and I will guide you to life insurance companies that are open to considering your condition, not all of them do. I cannot stress enough how important this is. If you even talked to your doctor about sleep problems, lets discuss this issue.

Sleep disorders can be a significant problem in applying for life insurance, but don’t let that stop you. Remember you are buying life insurance to protect your family. If you are worried about qualifying for life insurance, there are three options to consider

  1. Apply to the best sleep disorder friendly life insurance company we can find.
  2. Submit an informal inquiry.   This is where we gather your health information and informally submit it to several life insurance carriers on your behalf anonymously.
  3. Accept a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. It will be more expensive; however, you may want to avoid the depth of disclosure necessary with a life insurance company that wants more medical information.

The reason you want life insurance is to protect your family in the event that you are not alive to provide for them. When you start to look at what is involved in applying for a life insurance policy, especially when you have a sleep disorder, you can lose sight of why you are doing this. If you do not want to go through this process alone and you want someone who understands the system, I’d be honored to help you. The first step is completing the term life insurance quote request information on my website at www.advice4lifeinsurance.com

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog,

Van Richards

References

National Institutes of Health. (2011). 2011 nhi sleep disorders research plan (NIH Publication No. 11-7820). Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/resources/sleep/201101011NationalSleepDisordersResearchPlanDHHSPublication11-7820.pdf

PruebasBMA (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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