“Can You Get Life Insurance After Heart Surgery?” Asks Jerry

By Adam Pick on December 24, 2008

I just received a strangely coincidental email from Jerry regarding life insurance after heart surgery.

Jerry’s question reads, “I am wondering if you know of the difficulties of getting a term life insurance after heart surgery.  I tried to increase the policy I had and was immediately turned down due to my history of heart valve replacement surgery. I would think that I am healthier today than I was four months ago since my bicuspid aortic heart valve has been replaced via the Ross Procedure. And, I have very little risk factors: low cholesterol, within suggested weight, no other disease, never smoked. Have you encountered this before? Or, do you know of any friendly insurance companies?”



“Why does Adam consider Jerry’s email a strange coincidence?” you may be wondering.

Well, for the past four months, I have repeatedly attempted to get life insurance after my open heart surgery to no avail. (I want make sure Robyn, my wife, and our anticipated baby are taken care of should anything unfortunate happen to me.)

As many of you know, I’m tenacious. So, I did not stop my search for life insurance policies that cover 36-year old men with very few risk factors, just like Jerry.

Luckily, I think a college friend at Northwestern Mutual may have just located an insurance policy for me. I say “may have located an insurance policy” because (i) the insurance carrier’s ability to issue coverage is contingent upon the results of my annual echocardiogram and (ii) the cost of the policy is going to be very, very, very expensive.

It appears that my insurance premium, as a heart surgery patient, will be ten times greater than the average policy for someone in my age and demographic category. Yes… You read that right. My annual insurance premium will be 10X greater because I had heart surgery.

I’ll keep you updated as I learn more about this policy and other matters relating to getting life insurance after open heart surgery.

Keep on tickin!

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

jerry says on December 24th, 2008 at 2:13 pm

10 Times! Yikes!

Related: I love my employer, I really do. But just in case I was ever thinking of leaving that happy home for either another company or to become independent, I think about what would happen to the health insurance costs, as well as the employee life insurance policy they provide.

Having non-transferable life insurance and health insurance (or prohibitively expensive) COBRAs is, I think, an enormous drag on both citizens AND companies, as well as terrifically frightening in downturns like this one.

Along time ago, I was told to get term life right after college when the rates would be real low, and before they got wind of dangerous activities like learning to fly or scuba diving. That’s not a panacea, because many term life policies are for a fixed period like 20 years or so, and because insurance needs change over time. Single people don’t need a lot. Married couples a bit more. Parents need much more.

Anyway, Boss, in case you’re reading, I’d never go anywhere anyway. Love it there! Seriously, I dig the holes in the carpet and the plaster peeling off the walls and of course the beatings.

Sean R. says on December 24th, 2008 at 8:40 pm

And don’t forget disability insurance! You won’t be able to buy that either, unfortunately. Twenty years ago, when all I had diagnosed was a leaky valve, I went into business for myself for a couple of years. I could not buy life insurance OR disability insurance. So I went back to work for a big corporation – not just for the insurance, but it was a consideration. And so this year my health insurance paid all but $100 of my aortic valve replacement + aortic aneurysm repair surgery, and my disability insurance paid my full salary for the 10 weeks I was out of work. And if I hadn’t made it out of surgery, 3 timers my annual salary would have been given to my wife as life insurance. I often complain about Corporate America, but for insurance purposes, we heart patients can’t beat it.

Willy says on December 26th, 2008 at 7:52 am

My surgery date is January 8th 2009 for an aortic valve replacement. I, too have had issues with life insurance. I’ve max’ed my insurance through my employer. Another thing I have done is purchased life insurance for my 18-month old (today!) daughter, just in case this heart stuff is hereditary. Many plans allow for your child to upgrade the policy between the ages of 21 and 40 without a physical exam. Something you also might want to chat with your friend at Northwwestern about with the birth of your child.

PhilUSAFRet says on December 29th, 2008 at 10:19 am

After submitting paperwork twice, I was finally turned down for the Government Long Term Care Program because of my Aortic Valve replacement….another kind of insurance no longer available to me.

Mary says on January 5th, 2009 at 2:09 am

Years ago I bought Prudential Long Term Care insurance (concerned about MV repair in my future) and I pay $202/month. Fortunately I did not need it (nor did I qualify for it to be activated) while I recovered from my MV repair over the last 10 weeks. Prudential told me that “Now you have a significant medical history & nobody will sell you a LTC policy so it is in your best interest to not drop this policy.” Yikes! I never felt this good and even my cardiologist says that “Your heart is so normal now that it is boring!” and (at 52) “I’d guess you’ve got another good 30 years so take good care of yourself!”

Jim says on January 5th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

I was lucky enough to have increased my regular life policies last year before diagnosis. Then, last week, our company changed carriers. I was able to buy additional insurance during this one time enrollment period. I do my surgery on Monday the 12th, so I maxed out on everything!

The lesson here is to work in HR, and make your company change policies when it suits you!

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