Bipolar Disorder = No Life Insurance?

Defective and rejected is how I feel after learning I was denied life insurance due to my bipolar disorder. When I first got this information today, I was confused because as far as I knew, I was perfectly healthy. I wracked my brain for reasons they could deny me- maybe my psychiatrist hadn’t given enough information, maybe the insurance company looked at old records, maybe it was a technical error. I then reviewed my current situation- I haven’t had a bad episode since last year, I haven’t been suicidal in a year, I’m on a good medication regimen, I go to work, I’m in a healthy relationship. What gives? I decided to do a little research about bipolar disorder and life insurance and this whole denial thing. What I learned is this isn’t uncommon. What I think is it’s certainly unfair.

According to insure.com, there are several factors insurers look at when it comes to bipolar disorder. Two main things are control and compliance. They said that acquiring and maintaining treatment are essential. Another key factor is what type of bipolar you have. There is a heightened risk associated with bipolar I, compared to bipolar II, and it falls outside most insurers’ comfort zones. The reasoning- because people who suffer from it have a higher suicide rate. Insurers have to go by statistics when it comes to suicidal tendencies. Because I wanted to know exactly why I was declined coverage, I called to see what they could tell me. Apparently according to the report, having bipolar disorder puts me in a higher risk category, as well as the specific medications that I am taking. The agent suggested weaning off of meds, and if I could be off of them for two years, they could reinstate my application. Obviously, I know this is counterproductive so I did not consider it for a second. Instead, I tried not to feel too discouraged, and I am looking into the alternative accident insurance policies instead.

Has anyone else had this experience?

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6 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder = No Life Insurance?

  1. I haven’t had this particular experience yet, but I am not particularly surprised, considering it is nearly impossible to get individual health insurance with bipolar. It is very difficult to do a lot of health-related things with such an illness, especially bipolar I. I was told to forget the counseling profession because of my diagnosis. Exclusion and stigma is out there, whether we like it or not. It’s disappointing. I’m sure there is a way companies can assist people like us (life insurance wise), but they’re likely not going to go out of their way.

    • I know what you mean with trying to get health insurance. I was rejected a few times before finally gaining the minimal coverage that I have now. As far as professions, I have a BA in mental health & so far I’ve found the bigger struggle is actually finding employment. My hope is to never have to disclose my own illness once I do land a job in the field. Too many companies contribute to the stigma rather than help advocate.

      • Awesome BA. We would be the people most interested and empathetic to mental illness, don’t you think? However, we are not trusted by default. I was hoping I could hide my illness too, but I did not feel comfortable trusting that I’d never have to go to the hospital again, never have to be open about my illness to people even when I didn’t want to, et cetera. I am doing really well right now, and have been for a couple years, but before that I wasn’t. It doesn’t make sense for my life, to live in anxiety of being found out. I rather just be seen for my skill and not have to be afraid of having an employment physical and mental health test. Each person knows the odds that they are going to have difficulties from their illness. I just didn’t want to be living in fear all the time, feeling bad that I’m who I am.

        I’m curious about your career, because I was interested in that sort of path, before. Are you finding that you are excluded from employment because of your illness, or are there other reasons that it is hard to find a job?

        It’s sad that the people healing people with mental illness are often the ones that stigmatize against their employees. Weird.

      • In a perfect world we’d have the privilege to openly be ourselves and openly accept our illness in a professional environment. I unfortunately have never really been in a work situation where I could be. Last year I told my boss (I work in a shop office) that I had strep throat for a week when indeed I was suffering from a horrible mixed episode that prevented me from functioning.

        As far as employment, I live in metro Detroit so pretty much all jobs are tough to land. I’ve applied for a few mental health tech jobs, but no luck. I admit, also, that part of me is terrified to work in a setting that could trigger me, or an environment where I may become the patient rather than the employee. I’m not sure what I want to do exactly- probably eventually private practice counseling once I get my master’s.

  2. I gave up trying to get life insurance long ago. And anyone who would advise you to wean yourself off your meds ought to be arrested for practicing medicine without a license. Or perhaps for attempted murder. What an idiot!

    • I agree it was unprofessional and actually kind of surprising that they would even suggest it. I am also giving up on the whole life insurance thing, but I’ve found that there are a few accident insurance plans available. Not the same thing of course, but possibly the next best option for us bipolar folks.

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