Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood. Generally, the higher the level of PSA in the blood, the more likely it is that prostate cancer will be found. If you have high PSA levels it can make getting term life insurance a difficult process.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t get approved at the best rating class with the lowest premium possible. How? You first need to understand how life insurance companies handle applicants with elevated PSA levels. What do they look for? How can you prepare? What is the likely outcome?
Read on to find the answers and get started with your term life insurance application.
What Does a High PSA Level Mean?
The condition itself usually has no symptoms. You can have high PSA levels without knowing it. High PSA levels could mean a number of things. Elevated levels could be caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), Prostatitis or prostate cancer. There are several things other causes that can drive the levels up as well such as some medications, infection or a recent biopsy.
It is normal for men to have a low level of PSA in their blood; however, prostate cancer or benign conditions can increase a man’s PSA level. Knowing your PSA level as compared to what is normal is important as it could save your life. Normal PSA levels are as follows:
- Age 0 – 49 = 2.5 ng/ml or less
- Age 50 – 59 = 3.5 ng/ml or less
- Age 60 – 69 = 4.5 ng/ml or less
- Age 70+ = 6.5 ng/ml or less
High PSA Level Statistics
As of 2011, the following numbers show the significance of elevated PSA levels:
- More than 2 million men in the United States have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- About 240,890 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year.
- Of those diagnosed, about 33,720 men will die from prostate cancer.
- 80% of those with high PSA results (greater than 4 ng/ml) develop prostate cancer.
- 25% of men with normal PSA readings (less than 4 ng/ml) eventually develop prostate cancer.
The Impact on Your Life Insurance Policy
When you apply for a life insurance policy, you will have to take a medical exam. During this exam, you will be asked questions about your family history, lifestyle, and smoking and alcohol usage. The person administering the exam will measure your height, weight, pulse and blood pressure. Another test that will be administered measures your PSA level. Life insurance companies expect your PSA levels to be normal. If your PSA level is elevated, you may face additional testing.
What Life Insurance Companies Look For
Life insurance companies are concerned that those with high PSA level elevations are taking the proper precautions to keep it under control. A medical history of regular physician checkups is important to the company.
The life insurance company will be looking specifically at:
- When you were diagnosed with elevated PSA levels
- What steps you have taken since your diagnosis
- The degree of control as illustrated by medical records, height/weight and lab test results
- Any other medical conditions present
- Whether you are a tobacco user
How to Prepare for Your Term Life Insurance Application
There are important measures you can take to prepare yourself before applying for term life insurance. Doing so will help your chances of getting approved at the best rating class possible. Use the following tips to put yourself in the best position to win:
- Visit your doctor as often as recommended.
- Follow your doctor’s advice regarding medication and treatment.
- Make sure your medical records are updated regularly. This is crucial! The life insurance company will rate your application poorly if it is unable to determine your level of control.
- Get any other complications under control. For example, if you also have high blood pressure, make sure it is being treated as well!
What our Experience Has Shown
We’ve helped thousands of people apply for term life insurance and many of those people had high PSA levels. Here are a few things we’ve learned:
- Premiums are generally lower for those who diet and exercise or keep their blood pressure down with medication
- Premiums are generally higher for those who do not follow up with a doctor regularly.
- We recommend getting a policy in force first at a premium rate you can afford. You can then focus on improving the rating class through better control or lab results.
Real Examples from Real Customers
Devin applied for term life insurance when he was 52 years old.
- Paramedical exam results: 3.9 ng/ml
- Life insurance postponed until a complete review with a doctor
- Tested PSA levels again and found to be normal
- Outcome: Approved at a Preferred rating class
- Premium: $176 annually
Not So Good Outcome:
Joseph applied for term life insurance when he was 46 years old.
- Paramedical exam results: 3.5 ng/ml
- Diagnosed with prostate intraepithelial neoplasia
- Follow up visits show levels up and down
- Outcome: Approved at a Standard rating class
- Premium: $ 261 annually
Andrew applied for term life insurance when he was 51 years old.
- Paramedical exam results: 4.1 ng/ml
- Has not seen a doctor in over 4 years
- Outcome: Declined
What This All Means to You
The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have elevated PSA levels is — yes, you can qualify for coverage! The bad news is the approval and rating class can be very unpredictable and subjective. However, if you follow the advice we’ve provided and, more importantly, discuss your situation with your life insurance agent or broker, you can have a positive outcome.
And remember, if you are not pleased with the offer you receive, you can always try with another company or put the policy in force and work on improving the rating class through better control and lab results.