“Red Flag” Medications For Sleep Apnea And Life insurance

Medications For Sleep Apnea

“Red Flag” Medications For Sleep Apnea And Life insurance

Medication for sleep apnea and life insurance have a unique relationship. In fact, most people don’t realize the dynamics between the two. And what you don’t know might be burning a hole in your pocket.

As you may have guessed, medical conditions associated with sleep apnea run the gamut. Naturally, your doctor may have prescribed you medication to manage all the sleep apnea side effects.

So here you are, popping seemingly perfect pills when you discover a term insurance underwriter hating on the same prescription your doctor said would improve your health.

Seems backward, right?

Here’s the scoop on what’s really happening and what you can do about it to ensure top-notch term insurance rates. And just so we have this straight, we're not suggesting that you try to cheat a sleep apnea test, by any means.  That type of thing would endanger your entire life insurance application process.

The Biggest Pitfall of Sleep Apnea


A dirty couple of words exist in the insurance world. They are, “co-morbidity factors.”

Exactly as somber as they sound, co-morbidity factors are co-occurring conditions or diseases with a primary condition or disease that may impact the length of a person’s life.

Depending on the severity of the condition, sleep apnea can have a hefty list.

For example:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Obesity/weight gain
  • Acid Reflux
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

For each condition listed, there’s a corresponding prescription. Furthermore, each prescription comes with another long list of possible side effects.

When so many conditions are linked to sleep apnea, it can make staying healthy seem like an impossible task.. Plus, perhaps you may feel like you don’t have an option whether or not to take a certain prescription.

After all, it’s not as if you made the choice to have sleep apnea. Taking medications for sleep apnea or another concurrent condition may seem like the best choice for you and your family.

Why can’t a life insurance underwriter understand that?


Understanding an Underwriter’s Perspective when it comes to medications for sleep apnea

It’s an understatement that most life insurance applications require A TON of information from you but the size of your kitchen sink. Getting life insurance, especially if you have a medical condition like sleep apnea, is a pretty invasive process.

In other words, they ask a lot of questions.

Rather than being nosy, however, there’s a good reason for this. Underwriters need to know what to expect from you. Your health background, prescription history, and current lifestyle are significant keys to answering life expectancy questions.

Not surprising, taking medication for sleep apnea is only one variable underwriters factor into the big picture. Another common factor is what sleep apnea side effects you face.

They are also taking into consideration things such as prescription type, condition severity, and duration of medication.

Essentially, you’re listing all of that detailed information for a purpose. Being accurate and honest is critical to landing the very best term insurance policy.

But, you don’t need to jot down all your information without knowing what will shift an underwriter into the gear of doubting. Or, flagging your application as risky.

Speaking of flags, there are certain medications that serve as red flags for an underwriter. Landing awesome term insurance rates means examining your own medicine cabinet.


“Red Flag” Medications for sleep apnea 

When an underwriter reviews your life insurance application, they will be “red flagging” bits of your information where a possible problem might exist. A problem to an underwriter could be anything from an addiction-prone medication to a disease.

In this particular post, however, we’re focusing on medications for sleep apnea opposed to diseases.

Keep in mind, we’re not here trying to convince you to stop taking your prescription should it make the red flag list. Please, don’t do that. We’re here to help you make sense of the dynamics between medications for sleep apnea and life insurance.


two prescriptions serve as the most popular medications for sleep apnea. 

These are:

Provigil (modafinil) and Nuvigil (armodafinil).

Both Provigil and Nuvigil promote wakefulness and may be habit-forming, which may cause an underwriter to raise an eyebrow.

Rightfully so, as potentially addictive medications can present a significant risk to someone’s health. In fact, the painkiller hydrocodone (such as Vicodin) is well-known as one of the most overdosed prescription opioids. Oxycodone (such as OxyContin) follows close behind.

It comes as no surprise then that habit-forming medications of this caliber fall in the red flag category. Also, these medications are frequently prescribed to those who suffer from sleep apnea.

The same goes for another popular group of drugs; muscle relaxants. The most popular of this group is undeniably Valium (diazepam). Ativan (lorazepam) is not too far behind in popularity.


antidepressant medication will raise red flags if used as medications for sleep apnea


This includes most selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

These may include:

  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Lexapro ( escitalopram)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Paxil, Pexeva (paroxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Viibryd (vilazodone)

Although not every single red flag medication has been named here, this round-up gives you an idea of how some popular sleep apnea prescriptions measure up to a life insurance underwriter.


Don't forget about sleep apnea and anxiety!

Medical research never sleeps, pardon the pun.  There's so much new research happening regarding the correlation between sleep apnea and anxiety.  Nothing concrete has been proven, but it's highly likely that a sleep apnea patient will also be diagnosed with form of depression or anxiety disorder.  According to research at UC Berkeley:

"Still, it’s important to note that, while anxiety and sleep apnea are often found together, one doesn’t necessarily cause the other. “It’s been hard to tease out whether sleep loss is simply a byproduct of anxiety, or whether sleep disruption causes anxiety,” University of California, Berkeley doctoral student Andrea Goldstein said in a newly published study on anxiety and sleep deprivation"


Which leads us to discuss a major new development in California for the treatment of sleep apnea and anxiety...


let's talk about cannabis as a medication for sleep apnea

Recently, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a statement warning that using marijuana as a medication for sleep apnea wasn’t a supported practice.

Still, marijuana is often thrown in the mix anyway. It’s even listed as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana programs in selected legalized states. Only nine states have legalized recreational marijuana. However, medical marijuana is now legal in 30 states.

Yet, even with its prevalence, it still carries a stigma. Certainly not as much of a stigma as other drugs that may be more addictive or health-damaging.

In fact, many life insurance companies consider Cannabis to have a negative impact on health in much the same way as would alcohol consumption or tobacco use. Clearly, doctors and underwriters don’t always agree.

When it comes to marijuana use, the major caveat is in how it’s categorized. Strangely enough, recreational use isn’t typically classified under Tobacco rates. However, prescription marijuana is.

In your search to win the best term life insurance rates, navigating marijuana usage may be tricky. Your best bet is to work with a broker who knows his stuff and won’t leave any stone unturned.


Exciting New Medication for Sleep Apnea

It can be slightly disheartening to know the medications you need to manage a condition are also frowned upon by life insurance companies. But, there is hope.

After decades of failed attempts, Boston researchers believe to have discovered a drug combination that supports the dilation of upper airway muscles. This is the muscle group responsible for continuous breathing.

In short, this drug combo may very well serve as the first serious one-two punch to sleep apnea.

Researchers have discovered that the combination of atomoxetine and oxybutynin reduced patients’ apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) by an average of 74 percent. Blood oxygenation in the patients also significantly improved.

Although the research continues, this combination shows a lot of promise. It may be the most successful medication for sleep apnea yet.


Guidelines to Ensure the Best Term Insurance Rates for sleep apnea

Knowing all the areas where your life insurance application may be rated poorly or even denied, it may be tempting to cheat. Yet, this will likely get you in bigger trouble down the line.

The thing about your health is that there’s simply no hiding it. The paper trails are too long, records too deep, and truth too blatant. Plus, lying on an insurance application is considered insurance fraud.

Rather than taking the dishonest route, be straightforward with your agent and truthful on your application.

Just as in life, your history doesn’t necessarily define who you are today. Underwriters aren’t simply looking at your “bad” past if that’s what worries you. They also consider the way you’re currently managing your health and your prescriptions, for that matter.

One option would be to talk with your doctor about alternatives for your current medications.

Another great option is to go through an independent broker. Presenting options and solutions for your insurance needs, a broker can help you sort through your complicated medical history.


Take the Next Step

With a broker, especially at CB Acker Associates, you won’t simply be another number in another computer at another agency. You’ll be a real person with real problems that we want to help you solve.

To make the job of getting life insurance with sleep apnea a bit less complicated, please check out my easy-to-read Buyer’s Resource Guide.

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

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Chris Acker, CLU, ChFC
 

Chris is an independent life insurance broker located in Palo Alto, Ca. He started helping families and businesses build strong financial safety net in 1985. He earned a BA in history from Williams College in 1985. He Earned the CLU designation in 1989 and the ChFC designation in 1991. He is a past board member of the local chapter of the Society of Financial Services Professional. He has been a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors since 1985. Chris resides in Palo Alto with his wife, Carol and daughters Rachael and Samantha. In his spare time he is a regular platelet donor for the Stanford Blood Center and actively volunteers for various organizations and alumni groups.

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