70 million Americans experience a sleep disorder each year. Plus, as many as 30% of Americans will grapple with insomnia – both occasional and chronic.
Did you know that there are currently 96 diagnosable sleep disorders? With a considerable number of sleep disorders affecting a significant percentage of Americans, it’s no wonder people are turning to medical marijuana to get enough good sleep without the sleeping pills with crazy side effects.
So here is the 64,000 dollar question, will you have to pay more for life insurance if you treat your sleep disorder with medical marijuana?
We will tackle the myth about life insurance and medical marijuana first, then dive into the 5 most common sleep disorders.
Do Life Insurance Companies Penalize Medical Marijuana Patients?
Many life insurance companies still hide behind federal law and will not insure someone who consumes cannabis either recreationally or for medical reasons. However, companies are increasingly seeing the research and becoming cannabis friendly.
These 12 cannabis-friendly life insurance companies are the ones who can see the writing on the wall.
The major point to keep in mind about any marijuana-friendly life insurance company is that they treat recreational smokers and medical patients differently.
Recreational smokers fall into the rate class that best fits their health, then gets adjusted to match how frequently they smoke. For the best companies, smoking 2 or 3 times a week has no effect on your life insurance rates.
Someone holding a medical marijuana card will receive a rating for their condition. Using medical marijuana to treat a condition has no effect on their life insurance health class.
The underwriter will approach your health class by examining the degree and physical impact of the sleep disorder itself.
5 Main Types of Sleep Disorders
The following 5 sleep disorders are the most prevalent in the country. They also are the ones where doctors tend to prescribe medical marijuana.
Most people think of insomnia is difficulty falling asleep. It can also be waking prematurely or difficulty falling back to sleep.
As many as 50% of adults experience this disorder occasionally. Others have a more chronic condition. Chronic insomnia means it occurs at least 3 times per week for at least a month.
Symptoms can include:
- Finding it hard to fall asleep
- Awakening during the night and experiencing difficulty falling asleep again
- Awakening too early in the morning
- Feeling tired when awakening
- Experiencing daytime fatigue or drowsiness
Insomnia that does not infringe on your life is unlikely to be rated.
Sleep apnea is a condition which occurs when a person experiences breathing disruptions. It can be a serious sleep disorder.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – Most people with sleep apnea have OSA. A blockage in the throat causes a partial or complete cessation of breathing. In most cases the soft tissue of the throat collapses while sleeping, causing the obstruction. It can occur a few times or repeatedly during the sleep cycle.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) – With CSA, the brain neglects to tell the body to breathe. This communication breakdown occurs within the central nervous system. A person with CSA may awaken gasping for breath.
Mild OSA plus complete compliance with your doctor’s orders typically doesn’t merit a rating. More severe forms (and non-compliance) can range anywhere from a Table B to a decline.
REM Sleep Disorder
REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. It occurs during the dreaming part of the sleep cycle, also known as the dream state.
Essentially, this sleep disorder causes a person to physically act out their dreams while sleeping.
People may move their limbs quite actively while enacting out their dreams. Other may twitch slightly. In some cases, people leave their beds and have conversations. Sleepwalking is an extreme form of REM Sleep Disorder.
Repeated episodes of being asleep during the daytime characterize hyper-somnolence. It may also result from repeated daytime napping or excessively long nighttime sleep patterns. Often, people who need these daytime names find no relief from them.
Symptoms must persist beyond a month to meet the definition of chronic hyper-somnolence.
Both medical and mental conditions can cause this type of sleep disorder. Below are the four most common causes:
- Mental disorders
- Head trauma
- Injury to the central nervous system
Medical conditions which may contribute to the situation (but not necessarily cause it) include:
- Multiple sclerosis
How the insurance company rates someone with hyper-somnolence will depend on the cause and the notes in their medical records.
Restless Leg Syndrome
People also refer to Restless Leg Syndrome as RLS or Willis-Ekbom disease.
RLS is a neurological sensory motor disorder. RLS manifests in the compelling necessity to move one’s legs. Since it often occurs when someone is trying to fall asleep, RLS effectively prevents a person from falling asleep.
Symptoms tend manifest more frequently at night.
Primary RLS is the most common type of this sleep disorder. Doctors often find it to be hereditary or idiopathic. Sometimes the cause is unknown.
Secondary RLS originates in a separate but underlying medical condition. This might include varicose veins, anemia, iron deficiency, kidney failure, peripheral nerve dysfunction, pregnancy, or other vein diseases. Stress and diet can also contribute.
Underwriting for Life Insurance with Sleep Disorders Using Medical Marijuana
The insurance company will evaluate your use of medical marijuana for sleep disorders based on the medical condition itself.
All standard term and permanent life insurance policies require a medical exam. Many of the cannabis-friendly life insurance companies also offer simplified issue (aka no medical or no exam) policies. These let you skip the life insurance medical exam entirely. However, the application still contains medical questions which you must answer.
These no-exam policies also cost slightly more than their traditional counterparts.
Underwriters take more into account than just the medical exam. They scrutinize each detail if your application, including:
- Biological sex
- Family history
- Height/weight ratio
- Blood pressure
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Hazardous hobbies and occupations
When considering your sleep disorder, the medical consultant will want to know the type of disorder. They will try to confirm the existence or lack of an underlying health condition causing the sleep disorder.
A minor sleep disorder like insomnia, REM sleep disorder, or primary RLS should have little to no impact on your life insurance premiums.
If your sleep disorder is minor with no underlying medical condition, and does not impact on your daily activities, you will likely qualify for a non-rating assessment. This means you could be eligible for the following based on the other factors listed above:
- Preferred Plus
- Standard Plus
Depending on how often you smoke to control your sleep disorder, you could also qualify as a non-smoker. You can also qualify for non-smoker rates by consuming cannabis in other ways such as edibles, sprays, or tinctures.
If you have a sleep disorder with an underlying medical condition which is under control, then you can likely still qualify for at least a standard rating.
If your medical condition causing your sleep disorder is more severe or not well-controlled, you might be looking at a table rating or a decline.
The better the medical condition is under control, and the longer you go without a relapse, the lower your rates.
What About a Life-Threatening Condition?
If you have a life-threatening medical condition causing your sleep disorder and you suspect the insurance company might decline your application, then you might consider guaranteed issue life insurance.
If you are relatively healthy, don’t apply for this type of insurance. It’s a last resort option for people with serious medical concerns.
These policies don’t require a medical exam. They also don’t ask any health questions.
The catch is that the policy face amount rarely ever exceeds $25,000 or $50,000 in coverage. They are also more expensive than traditional policies. But, the main point is that your approval is guaranteed.
The other important part of these policies is their graded benefits. How your beneficiaries receive the benefits depends on how long you hold the policy before passing away. Most companies will pay 110% of the premiums paid if you pass on within the first two years of owning the policy. After that, they pay 100% of the death benefits, regardless of cause.
Guaranteed issue life insurance policies typically cover accidental death from day 1. If you don’t have a serious illness, a sudden death will most likely be from an accident anyways.
Make sure to examine a guaranteed issue policy carefully and explain how it works to your beneficiary.
What Type of Policy is Best for Life Insurance When Using Medical Marijuana for Sleep Disorders?
Without a doubt, term life insurance with a medical exam is the least expensive policy you can purchase. Term life insurance is as simple as it gets. Some companies offer riders, but at its core the policy only provides death benefits.
All you do is choose the amount of coverage you need. You can figure out exactly how much you need using a life insurance needs calculator to ensure you don’t overbuy. Next, you choose the length of time the policy will cover. Terms usually range from 10 to 30 years.
Choose your term carefully and base it on the reason you are buying life insurance. For example, if you have young children, you might consider a term policy until the youngest reaches adulthood or completes college.
Most term policies sold today come with a conversion option. This allows you to convert your term policy into a permanent life insurance policy, usually without a medical exam. You must convert your policy at a point specified in the contract to take advantage of this feature.
Converting a term policy is best for people who need to extend their life insurance coverage, but whose health may not be as excellent as it was when they first purchased life insurance. Most companies don’t require a new medical exam, and few ask any further health questions.
What about a Permanent Policy?
Permanent life insurance such as whole life, universal life, or indexed universal life covers you until age 121. Which, for almost everyone, is their whole life.
These policies are more expensive than term insurance. They include death benefits and a cash value accumulation which grows as you pay your premiums. You can borrow against this cash value as a no-questions-asked loan.
You could also consider a hybrid style version of these policies called a guaranteed universal life insurance policy. It is similar to a term policy in that it’s inexpensive and gives you a longer period of coverage. You can also opt for one with a cash value accumulation.
If you aren’t sure which type is right for you, consider why you are looking into life insurance. If it is something with a time limit, like paying off a mortgage, you don’t need lifelong insurance. After all, your mortgage won’t last your lifetime. If you want life insurance to leave something for a spouse or cover your final expenses, a permanent policy may make more sense.
Conclusions on Buying Life Insurance while Using Medical Marijuana for Sleep Disorders
If your doctor prescribed medical cannabis to help treat a sleep disorder, the insurance company will look at your medical condition, not cannabis consumption. However, you may still need to apply with one of the 12 marijuana-friendly life insurance companies.
How MJ Life Insurance Can Help
We are an independent life insurance agency. That means we work for our clients, not an insurance company. With access to over 70 life insurance companies (including the 12 cannabis friendly ones), we can find a policy that can be tailored to fit your family’s needs and budget.
Our agency specializes in connecting both medical marijuana patients and recreational smokers to the life insurance company with the best underwriting guidelines for their unique situation.
Give us a call at (888) 987-8447 with any questions. Everything is 100% confidential, and there is never any obligation to buy.