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I certainly am not going to minimize anything about the swine flu outbreak and if it meets the WHO definition of a “Pandemic” it’s OK with me if they call it that. So I’ve often referred to the type 2 diabetes epidemic and wonder if it would really be more appropriately called a pandemic.

While the outbreak or onset hasn’t necessarily been sudden, it has certainly become widespread and impacts and kills more people. Whatever you call it, and by the way WHO calls it an epidemic, the fact that there are about 180 million people with type 2 diabetes worldwide today and that is expected to double in the next 20 years, is significant. Over a million people die annually from complications of type 2 diabetes. As I wrote in a recent post, that number is likely to rise in these tough economic times as those with diabetes try to balance budgets with medicine.

From a life insurance standpoint the only good news in all of this is that as the numbers increase, education and treatment options are becoming more available and hopefully more affordable. Underwriters really don’t care what it’s called though, but focus squarely on the mortality risk. Unfortunately those at the bottom of the economic ladder, the people who arguably need life insurance the most, are the group that is most at risk and also most likely to be financially unable to afford the type of treatment it takes for good control.

The answer for most, at least during this recession, will be to lower their expectations on the amount of life insurance they would like to carry. The truth is that in all cases something is better than nothing.

Bottom line. The fact is that life insurance is available at reasonable rates as long as your diabetes is well controlled, A1c under 7.5. As control worsens, the price goes up and there is a point when your A1c is over 9 when underwriters may choose to decline your application until you have resolved the situation.