Category Archives for "Sleep Apnea Life Insurance"

Women are more at risk than men are for developing sleep apnea.

Women with sleep apnea also need life insurance.

Living with Sleep Apnea? – 7 Tips on How to Get Awesome Term Life Rates

living with sleep apnea

Living with sleep apnea can be frustrating, plain and simple

No matter if your condition is severe or mild , living with sleep apnea can be a serious struggle.

And you’re not the only one who suffers. You partner may strongly dislike sleeping next to a human freight train, or otherwise known as a person with sleep apnea. (Ahem, guilty freight train partner speaking!)

Plus, living with sleep apnea often means getting quoted really crummy term insurance rates. Which, can impact your entire family not to mention your overall quality of life.

Let’s face it, not even the hum from a CPAP machine can drown out the “kerplunk” of money you may put towards your premium.

However, take heart in knowing that you’re not as powerless as you may think.

The Most Important Thing Underwriters Look For

In deciding what insurance rating to assign you, underwriters are bombarded with loads of information to process. Your family’s health history, age, tobacco use, and weight are a few examples.

Yet, even in the middle of reviewing these intricate details of your life, an underwriting is looking for one main, “big picture” element.

Health management.

Underwriters want to know how you are managing your health. Naturally, when you’re living with sleep apnea, they’ll be inspecting how well you’re managing the sleeping disorder.


Basically, an underwriter knows that people with sleep apnea who proactively manage the condition (as well as health issues surrounding it) tend to live healthier and longer lives.

Here is an example of a sleep apnea questionnaire. Clearly, you can see how detailed it is as well as what information an underwriter is placing under the microscope.

sleep apnea life insurance questionnaire A real sleep apnea life insurance questionnaire[/caption]

With this questionnaire in mind, here are 7 tips on how to proactively manage your health and convince an underwriter to quote you the best rates.

1. CPAP Compliance for Insurance

No matter if you deal with severe, moderate, or mild sleep apnea, medical professionals frequently recommend the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

Living with sleep apnea means your lungs start and stop automatically while you’re asleep. Unsurprisingly, this does little for your goal of getting a good night’s rest.

When you fail to get adequate rest, your performance suffers, making it dangerous for you to partake in many everyday activities such as driving.

Furthermore, sleep deprivation can cause a rapid decline in cognitive function (memory, problem-solving skills, communication, etc).

And that’s just for starters.

An underwriter knows all of this. So, when they see that you’re practicing CPAP compliance, they’re more likely to dole you out a better insurance rating.

Still not sure about CPAP compliance? Check out this post: CPAP Compliance for Insurance. In it, I outline the details on this particular topic, including how it can help you win the best term insurance rates.

2. Other Therapeutic Options

Although the treatment of choice for people with sleep apnea is usually CPAP, there are other options.

This is especially helpful for those living with sleep apnea who are unable to use a CPAP machine.

Dental appliances exist which serve to reposition both the tongue and the lower jaw, making uninterrupted breathing more plausible. A colleague, Dr. Lydia Sosenko in Illinois,has devoted much of her dental career to sleep apnea and oral appliances.  To learn more about how this non-invasive treatment works, go to her resource page here.

A nasal expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) device is another therapeutic option. In short, this treatment method requires people with sleep apnea to cover their nostrils with a disposable valve.

Ultimately, a nasal EPAP device can create positive airway pressure when you exhale, opening up the airways during the next inhale.

Lastly, hypoglossal nerve stimulation is also a treatment method. As you may know, your tongue movement plays a large role when it comes to sleeping conditions.

This method works to stimulate your tongue muscles during sleep, promoting an open airway. By implanting a stimulator in your chest, medical professional attempt to communicate with the hypoglossal nerve that controls tongue movement.

3. Psychotherapy for treating sleep disorders

Living with sleep apnea often means living with other issues as well. Including mental health concerns.  There is evidence that certain sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, can be effectively treated by psychotherapy.

Commonly overlooked is the fact that among people with a traumatic past, there are significantly more people with sleep apnea than in the general population.

What this means is that if you’ve survived any type of traumatic experience in your life, you’re more prone to dealing with sleep apnea.

Keep in mind that a traumatic experience doesn’t necessarily have to be warfare, natural disaster, or something gargantuan, per se. There is what mental health experts call little “t” traumas.

Experiences such as divorce or separation, losing a loved one, physical illness, or a toxic work environment can all fall under this category.

If you deal with anxiety or negative underlying emotions, seek professional help. It may pay off more than you can imagine as psychotherapy is viewed as a proactive treatment for your overall health.

Tip: You can typically include psychotherapy treatment on your sleep apnea questionnaire in the “Additional Information” section.

4. Improve Overall Lifestyle

Yes, this is the part where I talk about eating clean, drinking lots of water, and exercising.

Here’s the thing about improving your lifestyle for sleep apnea, it’s not as complicated as it seems. Plus, establishing small, sustainable habits in your life can speak loads to an insurance underwriter.

When you’re living with sleep apnea, you need that “one-up” on the healthy, marathon-running folks. Those premium rate-getting running machines aren’t slowing down whatsoever. In other words, the term “optimal health” is here to stay.

Still unsure of who gets what insurance rating? I review how insurance ratings are determined in this post: Is Sleep Apnea a Disability?

Really, you have to figure out how to make good health happen for you. Perhaps you won’t ever achieve the optimal standard. Yet, doing nothing will literally do nothing for your endeavor to land a great term insurance rate.

Living with sleep apnea means you can’t skimp on the basics of good health. Especially since the condition is doing all it can to rob you of the sweet sleep critical to obtain good health.

5. Decrease Stress and Anxiety

Along with improving your overall health, it’s important to look at the negative impacts on your daily life as well.

But let’s back up and talk about why it’s important. It’s undisputed that sleeping disorders and mental disorders are connected. Things like chronic stress and anxiety can put a huge damper on fulfilling rest.

Do you find yourself worrying a lot? Does anxiety keep you up at night? Do you wake up in the middle of the night with feelings of panic, unable to fall back to sleep?

Unfortunately, symptoms such as nocturnal panic attacks and worry-induced insomnia have all been linked to sleep apnea.

To improve your sleep, try improving your headspace. Identify what is causing your anxiety. Then, find actionable and practical ways to cope with it.

To take it a step further, find ways in your life to cut out unnecessary stress. Doing so will improve your life quality and possibly improve your insurance rating as well.

6. Opt for Surgery

Sleep apnea surgery for life insurance

Photo Credit: Majid Jamali, DMD • Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of New York

Moving from your mental capacity to a more tangible element, surgery is another viable option for most people with sleep apnea.

There are three popular surgeries recommended for this sleeping condition

First is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or UPPP.

UPPP sleep apnea surgery involves the removal of the soft tissue at the back of the throat including the uvula and soft palate. Sometimes, additional soft tissue at the back of the throat is removed as well.

The second type of surgery is tracheotomy or tracheostomy

UPPP  was more frequently used prior to the development of CPAP.

In this surgery, a medical professional creates an opening in your neck. This opening—either temporary or permanent—is used to place a tube into your windpipe, creating a direct airway.

Third is Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA) surgery

MMA surgery is a highly invasive procedure, but offers much better and long-lasting outcomes according to research performed by Stanford University's Sleep Medicine department. As you may know, people with sleep apnea encounter pharyngeal collapse when they’re asleep. MMA surgery works to increase the pharyngeal space by moving the upper and lower jaws.  MMA surgery is highly invasive and involves a lengthy recover, however MMA surgery has an extremely high success rate. Quite easily the most intense surgery of the three, your upper and/or lower jaw are effectively moved forward to enlarge the airway.

Usually, all surgeries are mentioned on any sleep apnea questionnaire. They serve as a determining factor in an underwriter’s final decision.

7. Take a Proactive Approach to Genetic Health Issues

In the celebrity world, Angelina Jolie chose to undergo a preventive double mastectomy to decrease her risk of breast cancer. However extreme you may feel her choice was, it was undoubtedly an incredibly proactive approach.

Thankfully, your own proactive actions will be less like headline material and more like practical daily choices.

But, your underwriter may see your choices as “headline material.”  

A few examples taken directly from the sleep apnea questionnaire include lung disease, being overweight, arrhythmia, depression, coronary heart disease, and stroke.

When you know these issues run in your family, taking a proactive stance may sway an underwriter’s mind. Rather than sitting back and letting genetics push you around, being proactive proves you’re on the offensive.

Essentially, you’re doing what you can to manage your health in the best way possible.

Qualifying for AWESOME insurance rates can seem impossible if you're living with sleep apnea, but by taking a few steps in the right direction you can win the very best rates!

For a more in-depth look at getting the lowest cost term insurance, even while you’re living with sleep apnea, please see my Buyer’s Resource Guide.

If you’re ready to get a top term insurance rate as well as a deeper understanding of variables impacting your rate, contact us today by phone at 650-969-5844 or email at [email protected].

Also, if you'd like to learn more about our local SF Bay Area presence, please go here.

Is Sleep Apnea A Disability? – How to Make Sense of “Ratings”

Is Sleep Apnea a Disability?

If you suffer from sleep apnea and are searching for life insurance, then this post is for you!  Here you'll learn how and whether  life insurance underwriters consider sleep apnea a disability or not.  Armed with this important information, you be able to CRUSH the application process and get the lowest possible term insurance-all with in-depth knowledge you'll get in this article.

Keep reading...

(Buy the way, if you're unsure whether you have sleep apnea, you can still use this information packed article to help you in your sleep apnea life insurance quest!)

This post will fill you in on how to understand insurance ratings, revealing the inside scoop on an underwriter’s job and how they determine if sleep apnea is a disability, or not... Let’s dive in!

Getting the most out of something means understanding how it works, right?

For example, when your vehicle isn’t running correctly, you pop the hood (or, hire someone to do it). And, if your main dinner dish isn’t tasting the way you want, you examine the recipe.

Before any action, there’s a good chance you’re cocking your head to the side, squinting your eyes, and asking a very valid question to pinpoint the weak link in your endeavor.

Well, getting excellent term insurance rates is no different.

And the question to ask... “Is sleep apnea a disability?” The second question is undoubtedly whether or not you have the power to change that categorization.

To get the best term insurance rate, it’s vital to know the challenges you face.

Understanding the Role of an Underwriter

Firstly, let’s talk about the person who holds the epic stamp of approval for your term insurance application.

An underwriter’s role is to decide whether to provide insurance and under what terms. In their process of evaluating your application, they’ll determine your premium, and coverage amounts as well.

You need to convince an underwriter you’re worth covering. Also, when asking, “Is sleep apnea a disability?”- You're asking the underwriter this...

In some cases, an underwriter will consider your sleep apnea a disability. However, in other cases, they won’t. And believe it or not, neither your doctor nor the Social Security Administration determines this.

Sleep apnea causes disabilities if untreated

Left untreated, Sleep Apnea causes all kinds of illnesses and diseases.  Untreated or poorly managed Obstructive Sleep Apnea would most likely be deemed a disability.

Nevertheless, an underwriter is looking at your health, health management, and health history through a freshly cleaned microscope lens. If they perceive something about you as “risky,” you’ll likely get assigned a higher premium.

Which stinks.

But, you don’t have to settle. Keeping staring under the hood or examining that recipe. Your “aha” moment is coming.

Acknowledge Your Co-Morbidity Factors

In eyewear terms, underwriters sport “co-morbidity glasses” rather than rose-colored lenses or anything whimsical.  

In other words, they have eagle eyes for factors that indicate your health may cut your life short. Which, would leave your insurance company paying out on a term policy.

Underwriters are looking at factors such as weight, heart issues, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and whether you’re a smoker. Remember, they’re also asking, “Is sleep apnea a disability for this person?”

And, they’re coming to a conclusion based on length of the condition, severity, and other health issues possibly caused by your sleep apnea. Usually, they arrive at these conclusions by having you undergo a sleep study test.

From this fine-tuned assessment of your application, an underwriter will assign a rating to you.

Is sleep apnea a disability-How You’re Rated

Think of a rating as a grade. Although being graded is in no way glamorous, it’s a valid description of insurance ratings.

As mentioned before, you’ll likely undergo a sleep study test. From this test, an underwriter is looking at two key elements:

  1. Oxygen Saturation
  2. The Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI)

To break these items down, the AHI measures your pauses in breathing while the oxygen saturation calculates shallow breathing.

Normal oxygen saturation—the balance of oxygen in your blood—for a healthy person is 95-100 percent. Your AHI has an index value ranging from 0-30+. Of course, lower numbers indicate a better AHI.

Ultimately, it’s this sleep study test that will be the determining factor for an underwriter. While your doctor may assign you with “moderate to severe” sleep apnea, for example, the sleep study test may indicate “mild to non-existent.”

What Your “Ratings” Mean

As you may have guessed, the worse the rating, the more likely an underwriter will view your condition as a disability.

So, is sleep apnea a disability?

The answer is yes; it can be.

As mentioned before, aside from the sleep test, an underwriter will be considering your overall health concerning ratings. A frequently overlooked key to outsmart ratings is how you manage your health.

So when you ask, “Is sleep apnea a disability for me?” don’t be surprised when my response prods a little into how you’re managing your health.

With that said, consider these basic life insurance classifications:

  • Preferred Best/SuperPreferred: Reserved for people with optimal health and no increased health risks, think marathon runners and Dr Dean Ornish practitioners.
  • Preferred: Typically assigned to those with excellent health who also deal with a few minor problems such as elevated cholesterol levels.
  • Standard Plus: People in this category have optimal health but commonly struggle with more significant health issues such as being overweight or high blood pressure.
  • Standard: Assigned to people with average health and an average life expectancy, but co-morbidity factors such as early parental death or minor health problems play a huge role.
  • Preferred Smoker: Otherwise falling into the regular preferred category, this is for those who smoke (occasional smoking or cigar smoking often included).
  • Standard Smoker: Reserved for people in the standard category who also smoke.

As well as the above categories, there are table ratings for individuals who don’t fit into any of these slots. Unsurprisingly, table ratings also carry the highest premiums.

Here’s the Good News if you're still asking, "is sleep apnea a disability"

Although sleep apnea can be considered a disability, you also have some say in the matter. By adjusting your lifestyle and managing your health better you can essentially show an underwriter you’re not as “risky” a client as they previously believed.

Now, life isn’t always in our hands or as malleable as clay. So, your best bet of winning the best term insurance rate is to apply through a broker. An educated one, at that!

A broker isn’t tied to one single life insurance company. Therefore, they can shop around for the best rates for you.

When you take actionable steps to improve your health— dieting, exercise, CPAP compliance, etc.— a seasoned broker will be able to get you the best rates to fit your life.

So, is sleep apnea a disability for you? If you believe it is then stay tuned for my next blog post about how to outsmart an underwriter.

In the meantime, please check out my helpful Buyer’s Resource Guide for more tips and information on how to get the lowest cost term insurance when you struggle with sleep apnea.

If you’re ready to get a top term insurance rate and a better understanding on elements impacting your rate, reach out today either by phone at 650-969-5844 or email [email protected].

CPAP Compliance for Insurance: How to WIN the Best Insurance Rates!

CPAP compliance for life insurance

Landing yourself a great term insurance rate can seem like a monster of a job. For many, the search becomes more like a wild goose chase than a pure term insurance hunt.

Especially, if you struggle with sleep apnea.

As you may have discovered, not many life insurance companies look fondly on the condition. Believe me, I know.

Having the condition myself and experiencing my own set of challenges, I’ve been in your shoes.

Here’s the thing about getting the best term insurance rates, it IS possible.

Sure, there are rules to play by and requirements to satisfy. But, wrapping your mind around those rules and requirements can empower you to get the term insurance rate you deserve.

And, it starts with practicing CPAP compliance for insurance. Here’s what I mean.

How Sleep Apnea Makes It Difficult to Land Great Term Insurance Rates

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where breathing is interrupted. Typically, it’s not life-threatening in itself. However, the condition is accompanied by a slew of other physical ailments like being overweight, suffering from anxiety, or even severe fatigue.

Insurance companies—knowing full-well how much overall health impacts lifespan—generally view it as a higher than average risk to insure those with sleep apnea.

Although it can seem unfair or even prejudicial, consider the situation from their perspective.

If you deal with sleep apnea, you hold a greater chance of heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, stroke, etc. Most insurance companies hate co-morbidity factors and believe insuring you is a gamble.

But, you don’t have to let sleep apnea ruin your chances of landing great term insurance rates.

Understanding CPAP Compliance for Insurance

In sleep apnea, your airways experience a type of blockage. Starting and stopping the natural rhythm of your lungs, sleep apnea often thwarts the goal of achieving a good night’s rest.

Healthcare professionals debate what causes the airway obstruction. While each case is different, the bottom line is that a cure has not yet been discovered. As you may have guessed, this undiscovered cure has left many people suffering from sleep apnea merely crossing their fingers.

Or, forgoing the finger crossing, you and I could rely on the more practical approach of using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to help solve many of our health and insurance problems.

In fact, doing so will bode well in your search for great term insurance rates.

Why It Affects Your Term Insurance Rates

To sum it up, CPAP is applying pressure to your upper airway. By removing the obstruction, it becomes easier for you to breathe continuously.

Unsurprisingly, insurance companies find this method of sleep apnea management to be reassuring as it produces very positive results.

CPAP compliance for insurance may seem like another hoop to jump through, but it’s the smart route to take. As mentioned before, not only does it improve your health but it also increases your shot of getting excellent term insurance rates.

When you suffer from sleep apnea, using a CPAP machine can make you feel more alert during your waking hours by improving the quality of your sleep. With sound rest, you’re in a better mood, and your cognitive functions work better, decreasing automobile and machinery accidents.

But that’s just for starters.

Abnormalities within your heart tend to decrease as well as blood pressure. Thus, reducing your chance of experiencing congestive heart failure.

CPAP compliance for insurance has some grit to it. It’s the real deal. Furthermore, when you understand how CPAP compliance can improve your health, it might make the sting of previous term insurance rejections slightly less painful.

How to Practice CPAP Compliance for Insurance

When it comes to sleep apnea, the earlier you start treatment, the better.

In the case of practicing CPAP compliance for insurance, the best time to start treatment is always now. Mostly, because insurance companies are going to scrutinize your medical history, picking it apart to see just what hand of cards you are.

Plus, CPAP compliance for insurance requires proof. But, don’t let this sway you away. Here’s how you do it.

Insurance companies will want to know that you are using your CPAP machine regularly. It’s not possible to tell a white lie in this situation as they’ll ask for results from a sleep study.

Keep in mind, CPAP compliance for insurance generally means using your CPAP machine for at least four hours a night 70 percent of the nights.

What you’re trying to demonstrate to insurance companies is that you know how to control your sleep apnea, taking all the necessary treatment actions.

Common Roadblocks in CPAP Compliance

Far too often, sleep apnea sufferers stuff a CPAP machine in the closet, never really using it. Or, they run the machine without actually applying it. The most common non-compliance issue is when patients inadvertently throw the mask off in their sleep!  I’ve done this myself until I found the perfect mask for me, which enabled me to breathe more freely and also to have my face more uncovered.

Admittedly, using a CPAP machine can be tough as it’s not without its challenges. There are roadblocks to CPAP compliance.

For some, the feeling of claustrophobia keeps the mask off and the machine silenced. Others experience increased congestion, sores on the bridge of their nose, or can’t handle the noise of the device.

Here’s a client success story about CPAP compliance for insurance

I recently helped a new client secure a life insurance policy.  He’s an over-weight 50+-year-old.  He reached out to us on our website seeking term insurance quotes for a new policy to replace an older 20-year term plan whose premium was about to skyrocket when the initial 20 year period expires this fall.

When we initially spoke, he was under the impression that he could make an application online and get a brand new policy even though he had developed sleep apnea during the 20 years he had owned his existing term life policy.  He had also gained over 50 pounds.

His sleep apnea was controlled by CPAP, but he hadn’t replaced his equipment in over seven years!   Seven years is an eternity in the medical device field.  Modern CPAP equipment has built-in cellular capabilities to transmit the CPAP compliance data to the durable medical equipment company.  This nightly sleep report helps the medical insurance companies monitor CPAP compliance to determine whether to continue to pay for the unit or not.

The first thing we recommended was that he visit his sleep medicine doctor for a referral to the sleep center for a new sleep study, which he did.  He underwent a titration study to determine the appropriate pressure settings for his CPAP machine.

Long story short, he couldn’t believe how quiet the new CPAP equipment is!  He loves his mask, and his wife isn’t kicking him in bed to stop the leak in his mask. (That’s a significant side benefit!)

Next, after he visited his doctor for his 90-day followup, he gave me his CPAP compliance report could submit this to the insurance company, which we did with his formal application.

Fast forward through the underwriting process, which was complicated by his weight gain, and we ended up with a “standard” offer.  Standard insurance rates are “average,” not the best.  The insurance company told us that they would reconsider the policy if he loses 18 pounds over the next 12 months and keeps it off for another 12 months.  He’s said to me that with his new pressure settings and modern CPAP equipment, he feels like a new person.  So much so that he started exercising again and has taken off six pounds in the last four months-slow and steady!

Take the Next Step

Although you may deal with sleep apnea, getting the best term insurance rates is possible,  though it does require some action on your part.

Often, the amount of information available seems too complicated or too much of a hassle to dive into. If this is you, please check out my easy-to-read Buyer’s Resource Guide I can help you make sense of these complex insurance topics.

If you’re ready to get a great term insurance rate and a better understanding on elements impacting your rate, reach out today either by phone at 650-969-5844 or email [email protected].

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7 MORE Steps Women With Sleep Apnea Can Take To Get Awesome Term Insurance!

7 more stepa women with sleep apnea

Did You Know That Women Living With Sleep Apnea Have Higher Mortality Rates Than Men Do?

Medical professionals and sleep researchers have been studying obstructive sleep apnea symptoms in women, like increased risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as, what causes snoring in females. 

So, what does a woman with 
sleep apnea do to get the best term insurance rates?

We've added 7 MORE steps to our list of actionable steps that women with sleep apnea should do in order to position themselves to be the best life insurance applicants possible

1. Get A sleep study And Treatment

Why is this important?
Life insurance companies want to see that women with sleep apnea are taking the proper precautions to keep it under control. Provide a recent sleep study that proves your efforts are helping you maintain the effects of sleep apnea.

2. Use CPAP Equipment Consistently

Obvious, right?  If you are prescribed a CPAP or other helpful device to aid you in living with sleep apnea, make sure you are regularly wearing the tools and appropriately.

3. Proof Of Progress For Sleep Apnea Treatment  

Insurance carriers want to know you are a low risk. You’ll want to show your insurance company that you are responding well to the treatment and share any reduced side effects of sleep apnea. 

4Check The Neck-Sleep Apnea Neck Size Is A Regularly Monitored Symptom In Men And Women With The Condition.

Sound silly? It’s serious.

It matters! 

 In general, neck circumference is considered to be a risk factor for snoring and sleep apnea when the circumference of a woman’s neck is greater than 16 inches. Make sure your doctor is monitoring this at regular visits. 

5. Report Other Symptoms.

For example, the effects of sleep apnea and women are many. As doctors and researchers look to find what causes snoring in females, as well as, other, more common, sleep apnea symptoms in women, sharing details of other concerns you have may help with proper diagnosis and, ultimately, coverage. Here are things to report, to name a few:

Cardiovascular disease

6. Drive Carefully And While Alert If You Have Sleep Apnea!


Sleep apnea and fatigue are not in the same category. It is important to report accurately how sleep apnea affects your everyday life. However, sleep apnea is NOT the same as  “nodding off.” Sleep apnea is a chronic condition--nodding off is a temporary issue cured by sleep itself. Therefore, your insurance company will also be looking for a record of no sleep-related accidents while driving. 

7. if you have sleep apnea--Kick the habit.

Smoking causes upper airway inflammation. This inflammation causes the nose, uvula, and throat to swell, which reduces the space in the airway. The inflammation then contributes to increased severity of sleep apnea. Make matters better by kicking the habit as soon as possible.

        What can these 7 steps do for you?

Here's An optimistic case study for you where a women with sleep apnea got the best term life rates: 

Kathy, a non-smoker, applied for life insurance when she was a 52-year-old female

She was diagnosed at age 42 with mild OSA via a sleep study and was prescribed nightly use of a CPAP machine.

She uses the
CPAP machine every night and visits her doctor twice per year follow up on her sleep apnea, as well as, monitor her neck size.

Her medical records clearly document her continued use and successful treatment while also showing a post-treatment sleep study that shows the progress being made by her and her doctor’s efforts

Outcome: Kathy was approved as a preferred rate class, with a very affordable annual premium for term insurance. 

What’s the bottom line? 

If you are a woman living with sleep apnea, you still have a good chance of qualifying for inexpensive term life insurance coverage! 

Your best bet is to follow these 7 steps so you can avoid unpredictable term insurance rate classification.

If this information has been helpful and informative, please comment below?  Do you have, or does someone you know, suffer from sleep apnea?  We'd love to hear your comments and stories.  There are many resources available to OSA/CSA sufferers. 

Also, PLEASE SHARE this post!  We really appreciate your time! 

Sleep Apnea Life Insurance For Women-7 Steps To Take NOW To Get The Best Rates!

Sleep Apnea Life Insurance For Women

want to wake up knowing you have the best sleep apnea life insurance rates?

My Name Is Chris Acker, CLU, ChFC.  I Was Diagnosed With Mild OSA In 2004.  My AHI Without Treatment Was 23.  I Started Using CPAP In 2004 And My Life Changed!  My New BIPAP Device Measures My AHI At About 2.5 Each Night.  my life insurance company now loves me since i'm CPAP compliant! let me help you get the best sleep apnea life insurance for women!

My wife hates my CPAP machine!  Actually, she hates my mask which has a loud exhaust.  I'm constantly playing with my CPAP mask trying to find the absolute best fit!

I actually LOVE my CPAP and wouldn't go anywhere without it.  Recently I've been researching sleep apnea in women and how OSA correlates to higher life insurance premiums for both men and women.  While it's possible to get excellent term insurance premiums for women who have sleep apnea, you need to understand the differences between the sleep habits of men and women and also the symptoms and treatment of sleep apnea in women which are quite different than those in men.

You came here looking for sleep apnea life insurance for women, but you need to understand your OSA condition and how OSA affects your personal health and sleep habits. Once you know where you stand regarding you own symptoms and OSA treatment/management, then we'll get into some of the finer points on presenting a life insurance application to a specific life insurance carrier who specializes in sleep apnea life insurance for women  So, take a look at the Quick navigation guide and you can skip down to the section that interests you the most.  Remember, We have extensive experience reviewing sleep apnea test results and how those AHI/RDI numbers can influence a life insurance policy offer.  Later on, I'll show you my sleep study summary and discuss approaches we take with our clients when we submit a life insurance case to the insurance company.

sleep apnea in women

Face it, women manifest symptoms of sleep apnea differently than men.  Not only do women snore less, but their body types also outwardly don't adhere to the sleep apnea myth that you need to be a fat middle aged man to be a prime candidate for OSA.

Women who have OSA may:

  • Have a large Neck circumference- greater than 16 inches
  •  Experience daytime fatigue
  •  Have a lack of energy or excessive sleepiness despite getting an adequate amount of sleep (usually 7-8 hours) at night
  • Notice headaches when they first awaken. 
  • Bed partner may report that they have heavy snoring, or that they have breathing pauses during their sleep and make choking sounds sometimes with these. 
  • Notice that they have frequent unexplained awakenings at night
  • Awaken frequently to urinate
  • Awaken from sleep at night feeling as if they are gasping or choking.
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hypertension unable to control by medication easily

    Under-diagnosis and misdiagnosis for women with sleep apnea- Doctors can get it wrong

    Sleep apnea in women often disguises itself as other serious issues.  It's not uncommon for medical professionals to look for other illnesses before they land on a sleep apnea diagnosis.  This is extremely important when you're shopping for sleep apnea life insurance for women.

    Here are some of the common incorrect diagnoses women can labelled with on their way to being correctly diagnosed an treated for OSA.  [Correct diagnosis of sleep apnea for women will make a huge difference in lowering women's life insurance premiums even with sleep apnea].  

    Typically, women with sleep apnea have these symptoms- (either some or all):

  • Anemia
  • Cardiac or pulmonary illnesses
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fatigue from overwork
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hypertension
  • Hypochondria
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Insomnia
  • Menopausal changes
  • Obesity

When it comes to reporting sleep troubles women are much more likely to discuss their sleep problems with their primary care providers. Unfortunately, because of a combination of factors, women with sleep apnea are often diagnosed and treated for other sleep disorders or get treated for comorbid conditions that are typical for sleep apnea patients.

"It is commonly known within the sleep field that women with OSA present differently than men," Says Angie Randazzo, Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist at St. Lukes Sleep Medicine & Research Center, "They often don't have the stereotypical body type and don't always say they are sleepy. Many will say they are fatigued, leading clinicians to think they have insomnia versus OSA."

Can you actually die from sleep apnea?

​​​​Short answer- YES! It's subtle and a semantic issue, like saying someone can die from HIV.  You don't actually die from the HIV condition itself, rather you die from other side effects caused by sleep apnea.  Take a look at some of the recent celebrity deaths where OSA played a significant role in their premature deaths.  

Here's a list of celebrity sleep apnea deaths from The American Sleep Association:

  • Carrie Fisher- died 2017. Many speculate that she had a heart attack as a result of untreated sleep apnea.
  • James Gandolfini (The Sopranos)
  • Comedic actor John Candy
  • Justin Tennison (The Deadliest Catch)
  • Entertainer Harris Glenn Milstead (also known as Divine)
  • Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia
  • Singer-musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
  • President William Howard Taft
  • NFL player Reggie White

You can see that these actors, entertainers, and professional athletes were mostly men, AND most were obese.  The lone woman on this list was Carrie Fisher and she was not obese, yet she suffered a fatal heart attack, which was her listed cause of death.  

women and sleep disorders

Why life insurance companies love women, but hate sleep apnea

Typically, women pay less for life insurance than men.  This is a simple fact. However, when you throw in a sleep apnea diagnosis, women tend to be more difficult to underwrite for this condition, in my experience.  All of the co-morbidity factors mentioned above make it difficult for a home office life insurance underwriter to sift through mountains of medical records accompanied with you life insurance application.  This is precisely why you, as a woman with sleep apnea, need to make sure that you apply with the insurance company that will be the most aggressive and flexible viewing your special sleep apnea condition.  Sleep apnea life insurance for women is a specialty in which not all life insurance carriers are fluent.

Older obese women, age 50-70, are 31% more likely to have OSA than non-obese women.  Women with OSA are also more prone to developing other serious condition, especially mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.  These medical conditions can lead a life insurance company to decide to decline a woman's life insurance application if she suffers from sleep apnea.  

​7 Steps women with sleep apnea  can take so you can get the best term life policy 

  1. Identify your symptoms.  Talk with your sleep partner to see if they recognize any of the symptoms described.
  2. If you do suspect a sleep disorder, get an appointment with your primary care physician.  Discuss a possible sleep apnea condition.  She should be able to refer you to a sleep medicine specialist.
  3. Go see a sleep medicine specialist and ask for an initial sleep study.  With the Affordable Care Act, sleep studies are now cheaper to patients than ever.  Sleep studies are covered like any other office visit, which is awesome because these sleep studies can cost over $3,000 easily without medical insurance.
  4. Ask if a home sleep study is possible instead of spending the night in a facility.  Home studies are not as acutely accurate as facility studies, but they cost far less and are much more convenient, especially if you have young kids at home.
  5. Meet with your sleep doctor and go over your results.  If you have and AHI of over 5 (apnea/hypopnea index- how many times you stop breathing in an hour), then you are considered to have obstructive sleep apnea and treatment is indicated.
  6. Get the "titration sleep study" done ASAP.  This is where you need to spend the night at a sleep center.  This would be a second study where the sleep center hooks you up to a CPAP machine and dials in your proper CPAP pressure settings.  
  7. Meet with the sleep doctor again and they will recommend a durable medical equipment provider where you can get your equipment fitted and provisioned with the exact pressure settings you require.  This is all done by prescription form the doctor.  You can't simply go and buy a CPAP/BiPAP machine off the street ans self-treat.

CPAP treatment for sleep apnea can boost sex life for women

As if getting the best rates on sleep apnea life insurance for women isn't enough incentive for all you women reading this, there's new research in the sleep disorder field that suggests that CPAP therapy for OSA/CSA can actually help your libido.  It's true!  According to a new randomized study of men and women who are being treat for OSA, the study published in the May 2018 edition of the JAMA Network Otolaryngology- Head and Neck, subjects who were treated with CPAP for sleep apnea reported increased libido.  While not entirely devoted to women, the results of the study showed overwhelming imporvement of "sexual quality of life" for women.  In men, not so much... Sorry guys!  However, the JAMA report goes on to say that men who are being treated with positive airway pressure for sleep apnea should certainly continue its use.

menopause, sleep apnea, and life insurance

​​​​Ok, now comes the fun part for women seeking life insurance!  Women of middle go through menopause.  Typical symptoms include night sweats for no apparent reason.  BUT, did you know that night sweats during menopause can mean that you might have sleep apnea?  This issue has been research heaviliy recently and, according to the National Sleep Foundation:

"Generally, post-menopausal women are less satisfied with their sleep and as many as 61% report insomnia symptoms. Snoring has also been found to be more common and severe in post-menopausal women. Snoring, along with pauses or gasps in breathing are signs of a more serious sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)."

So, you see, there's a big connection between sleep apnea and menopause.  Seems like many sleep disorders manifest themselves during peri-menopause and post-menopause and life insurance companies will want to see your medical records to make sure that you've reported these conditions to you primary care physician and that any treatment has been recommended, like CPAP or oral appliances.  For women, sleep apnea simply hasn't been a primary diagnosis because most endocrinologists and gynecologists are focused on the hormonal effects of menopause.  Snoring could be your first clue that your sleep pattern has changed.  

Another concern that life insurance carriers have with underwriting a life insurance policy with sleep apnea is that sleep problems are often accompanied by depression and anxiety.  With these mental health issues comes an increased risk of suicide and other co-morbidity factors which underwriters would add a surcharge or "policy rating".   This can add significantly to the premium you pay. 

So, ladies, don't ignore those night sweats and snoring if you sleep partner complains to you.  You will both sleep better if you seek a medical opinion and sleep apnea life insurance for women wont be an issue!

Use A High Risk Life Insurance Broker to find the best sleep apnea life insurance for women

Once you get your treatment set up and you have a few weeks of CPAP therapy under your belt, you're ready to go to a life insurance carrier to see if they would offer a life insurance policy.  On this front, you need to use a special risk life insurance broker who has solid experience with women and sleep apnea life insurance.  The worst thing you can do when you are looking for sleep apnea life insurance for women is to go to a "captive" agent for a single life insurance company.  Those agents do not have the ability to shop your sleep apnea case to many different carriers.  They owe their allegiance to that specific life insurance company and that carrier may or may not be good at underwriting sleep apnea life insurance policies.  A good sleep apnea life insurance broker will be able to help present your case to the insurance carrier in the best possible light.  I will say, that since I have been treated for OSA since 2004, I am uniquely qualified to help clients get the best possible sleep apnea insurance rate classification.  

 bonus section--a real sleep study summary

Your sleep study and sleep apnea life insurance

I've included a copy of my most recent sleep study from Stanford Sleep Medicne done in 2014 below.  This was a "titration study" performed so I could update my CPAP equipment.  The medical insurance carriers do require follow up studies be done periodically.  In my case, I have been using the same CPAP machine for about 6 years.  I can tell you that the new CPAP/BiPAP machines are amazing and life insurance carriers LOVE the CPAP telemetry feature where you get a "mini" study every night.  My average AHI readings on my new CPAP/BiPAP is roughly 2.5-2.9 which is essentially a normal reading.  If you haven't updated your CPAP equipment, definitely do so ASAP.  The life insurance carrier may in fact give you a better rate just for updating your sleep apnea equipment.

Sleep apnea sleep study for life insurance