Qualifying For Life Insurance After Gastric Bypass (Bariatric Surgery)

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 93.3 Million American adults are affected by obesity.

The challenges of obesity include developing chronic health conditions including Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, sleep apnea, and certain types of cancer.

To reverse these negative health conditions, many people opt for gastric bypass surgery as a solution.

Securing life insurance for a reasonable price after having gastric bypass surgery (also known as bariatric surgery) will depend on several factors.

These include the reason for your surgery, the weight loss experienced, and the side-effects you may have faced.

The good news is life insurers do recognize the long-term health benefits of gastric bypass.

Obviously by reducing your Body Mass Index (BMI) through surgery, you are positively impacting your ability to secure an affordable life insurance plan.

I highly recommend you work with an insurance agent, such as myself, that is experienced in helping high risk applicants obtain coverage at reasonable rates.

In this article we will look at what to expect when trying to get life insurance when you are over the of 50 and have had gastric bypass surgery.

We will look at what rate class you are likely to be approved for but…

First, It’s important to understand how life insurance rating work.

Life insurance companies review all aspects of your life and health, including your gastric bypass surgery.

All your personal details help the insurer build a profile of you as an applicant.  The insurance company will assess your risk, and decide what rate class they can approve you for.

Below you will find the general rating classes used by most life insurance carriers:

RatingReason For RatingPremium Pricing
Preferred PlusHealthiest, Lowest Risk ApplicantsBest Pricing Possible
PreferredVery Healthy, Low RiskBetter Than Average
StandardControlled Medical ConditionAverage Pricing
Sub-Standard (aka Table Rating)Chronic Illness (Moderate to Severe)Below Average Pricing, about a 25% rate up per Table

Sub-Standard (“Table Rating”) premiums will typically go up about 25% on average for each level.

The percentage may differ depending on the insurance carrier.

A Sub-Standard (“Table Rating”) covers up to 16 different levels below a “Standard” rate class with some carriers.

For example, let’s suppose the standard premium for a life insurance policy you are interested in totals $100 per month.

Let’s also assume you receive a Level 1 table rating. This means you will pay about $125 per month (or about 25% above Standard).

If you are someone that is over age 50 with gastric bypass, you will most likely NOT qualify for any rating better than a Standard Rate.

The Cost For Life Insurance After Gastric Bypass

How much will you have to pay for coverage?

Well, it depends on what risk class you can qualify for.

So what risk class might you qualify for after weight loss surgery?

Best Outcome

More than likely you will have to wait 6 months after your surgery to qualify for life insurance.

If you experienced no complications from bariatric surgery, it is possible to receive a Standard rating after 6 months have passed.  Typically, you will need to add back half of the weight though that was lost.

So if you lost 100lbs with the surgery the insurance company would usually add back 50lbs to your current weight in order to determine the rate they can approve you for.

The insurance company does this because the weight loss was so recent at this point.

After 12 months post-surgery most insurance companies would not add back half of your weight.

They would underwrite your application based upon your height and weight at the time of your application.

If your surgery didn’t go so smoothly and you experienced mild complications that have been under control for 6-12 months, it is probably more likely that you would receive a Table Rating of 1-4 (A-D).

Average Outcome

If you experienced moderate complications like leaks or persistent bloating, it is possible to receive a Table Rating of 4 or lower.

Worst Outcome

If you experienced major complications or weight fluctuations post-surgery, it is possible to be declined.

Remember, your chances of securing a life insurance plan increases in relation the length of time it’s been since having your bariatric surgery.

If you do not get approved for traditional coverage you still have other options.

You might be eligible for coverage with a final expense life insurance policy, but if not you can certainly obtain a guaranteed acceptance life insurance policy.

Questions You Will Be Asked After A Gastric Bypass

Let’s look at the application questions you’ll be asked regarding your gastric bypass.  These questions will help the insurance company figure out your overall risk level.

To help you better prepare for the application process, take a look at the following questions you will be asked.

Basic Application Questions

  • What is your age?
  • What is your current height and weight?
  • What is your occupation?
  • Do you have any risky hobbies or activities (i.e. skydiving or rock climbing)?
  • Are you married or single?
  • Do you use tobacco?

Tobacco users should be prepared to pay at least DOUBLE the premium of a non-smoking peer. 

Gastric Bypass Application Questions

  • When did you undergo bariatric surgery?
  • What type of bariatric surgery did you have?
  • How much did you weigh at the time of your bariatric surgery?
  • Did you have any complications during your surgery?
  • Did you experience any complications after your surgery was performed?
  • Did you have any symptoms of post-op complications?
  • Were you prescribed medications after surgery was completed?
  • Did you attend a follow-up appointment with your physician after surgery was done?
  • When did you last see your physician?
  • What is your goal weight?
  • Have you lost the desired amount?
  • Have any of your chronic health conditions improved since the procedure was completed?
  • Do you follow a specific meal plan?
  • Do you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes?
  • Did you have any diagnostic tests completed in the last year?

The most important part of your story is whether you’ve successfully lost weight and kept it off for a solid period of time, as well as whether you’ve reversed any chronic health conditions since surgery.

Doing either of these things will benefit your overall rating and, ultimately, keep your premium low.

Medical Exam (maybe, but maybe not)

Please don’t forget, if you’re applying for a term or permanent life insurance plan this means you also may need to complete a “para-medical exam”.

There are no exam life insurance policies available as well.

As independent insurance agents I can explain the good, the bad, and the ugly of each of your options, and you can decide what you think is best for you.

If you decide to apply for life insurance with a company that requires an exam the insurance company will coordinate a medical professional (usually a nurse) to visit your home and complete the exam.

You will be required to submit urine and blood samples. The nurse will also assess your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse.

All of the results from your medical exam will be shared with the insurance company and considered in determining your rating.

Life Insurance Application Tips After A Gastric Bypass

The better prepared you are for the insurance application process, the better your outcome will most likely be.

Below are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind as you move forward with securing life insurance:

  • Complications: Getting through the gastric bypass without any complications is a plus. The insurance company will want to know if you had blood clots, internal bleeding, infection, or extra skin removal surgery.

The life insurer wants to figure out if you have any permanent, uncontrolled complications as a result of bariatric surgery.

  • Weight Loss: Remember, many insurance companies will add back half the pounds you lost over the 12 months following surgery.  They will then rate you off the corresponding BMI.
  • Diet & Exercise: Document your diet and exercise routine following your bariatric surgery. This will show your ongoing commitment to good health, making you a better risk.
  • Compliance: Comply with prescribed medication, follow treatment plans exactly, visit your doctor regularly, and make sure your medical records are updated. All of these actions will show the life insurer that you are making a true effort to control your health.
  • Pre-Op vs. Post-Op: Trying to decide if you should apply for life insurance before or after your gastric bypass? I can help you determine what is best for you.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to this question.

  • Reconsideration: Remember, after your policy is active for one year, you can certainly apply for a “reconsideration” to possibly lower your premiums.

A “reconsideration” is when the life insurance company takes a second look at your application, taking into consideration any positive changes in your lifestyle or overall health.

  • Be honest: Leaving out important information to help get a lower rate never works out for applicants! Always be up-front with your insurance agent and the insurance company.

Let’s Get Started

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) estimates that 228,000 Americans elected to have gastric bypass surgery last year.

Over the last six years, ASMBS reports there has been a 69% increase in the total number of gastric bypasses procedures completed.

This is a sobering statistic since, as you know, gastric bypass is a serious medical intervention usually prompted by critical chronic illness.

For this reason, insurance companies have learned to work with applicants over age 50 with gastric bypass.

The insurance carrier will certainly review your application thoroughly before insuring your life.

However, having a gastric bypass on your application most likely won’t  mean you will be declined coverage.  Not at all.

I’ve helped many people with gastric bypass obtain relatively cheap life insurance despite their medical history.

Take a few minutes to fill out our form for a free instant quote if you like or just give me a call.  You and your family deserve to have peace of mind and I can help!