Let me preface this by saying that I take Prozac for situational depression. The situation doesn’t exist anymore but the feelings were so bad that I continue to take the Prozac. I don’t want to quit and find out that the horrible way I felt was just coincidental to the situation that I blamed it on. The more I work with mood disorder life insurance cases, the more I find out how many people are in exactly the same boat.
Everything might be just fine if you quit that medication, or everything could start spinning and spiraling downward just like the water in a toilet. So comes the underwriting question. If a person takes anti depressant, anti anxiety medications when they may not need to, should they be underwritten as chronic?
I ran into an extreme example of this the other day. A man over 50 applying for life insurance had been diagnosed in college as bipolar. He was never hospitalized, never had even a single suicidal thought, has never had any lost time, and on just a low dose of Lithium has not had any kind of bipolar like episode in 30+ years. It seems pretty clear to him now that he knows quite a bit about bipolar that the original diagnosis was wrong. He was likely just going through the extreme ups and downs that can go along with being a driven to succeed college student. He is now about as high up in his occupation as you can get in our country and he still takes the same low dose of Lithium. His doctor and psychiatrist agree that it was likely a misdiagnosis and have given him the OK to discontinue the treatment, but he doesn’t feel like he can at this point.
While in all likelihood nothing would happen, because of his position if he went off Lithium and had a bipolar episode of some sort, it could put a lot of people possibly in harms way. He is responsible for making decisions that effect people’s lives, literally. So, until he retires, or maybe forever he will live with a likely misdiagnosis and will continue on a likely unneeded treatment.
He applied for life insurance through his long time family friend car and home insurance agent and was approved, but highly rated. We shopped the case and found several underwriters that were definitely empathetic to his situation. The best of those offers will get him the life insurance he needs at a rate very close to someone who had never even heard the word bipolar, about 1/3 the premium that his auto agent could have offered him.
His situation is distinct because of his position but so many people have been taking mood disorder medication of one sort or another, probably for much longer than they needed to, but let’s talk about the possibilities of discontinuing treatment and how that can affect underwriting. Fortunately I have a group of underwriters and companies that are in tune with the real world and we have been able to get preferred and better approvals in these types of situations. But, I’ve had clients ask if it would be better if they went off the treatment and then applied. Obviously going off of treatment is a doctor question, but don’t do it for the sake of getting a better rate on life insurance. We can get you a very fair rate already. Then, once you have that in place, if you want to go off meds and see what happens, go ahead (per your doctor). If things don’t work out the bad news in your medical records isn’t going to impact the insurance you already have in force. If things work out famously, after a year of stability off treatment we may be able to find a better rate. Maybe not though because you may already have the best rate you can get.
Bottom line. I’m right there with you with understanding why to keep taking Prozac or whatever mood disorder drug you’re taking. It costs me $10 every 90 days to be pretty darn sure I will never be in that dark place again. If you have any questions or feel you have been treated unfairly for a situation involving long term use of mood disorder medication, with no concrete chronic condition, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.