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People with health problems should shop around again.

Medical advances that have improved life expectancy, as well as insurers' improvements in assessing these risks, are making it easier for people with health problems to qualify for life insurance. Some who were rejected in the past can now get coverage, often at decent rates.

If you have diabetes, asthma, heart disease, or hepatitis C, now is a great time to shop around again for life insurance. Instead of automatically rejecting people with these conditions or grouping them all into one category, insurers are now looking at their medical conditions in a lot more detail-giving them credit, for example, if they're on certain medications and are doing a good job of controlling their condition.

Some companies, for example, have lowered rates for people with certain forms of diabetes, particularly if they aren't insulin dependent and the condition is controlled by diet or oral medications.

People with prostate cancer can get a better rate if they have certain Gleason and PSA scores, two measurements of the cancer's severity. Some insurers will offer cancer survivors standard rates if three or five years have passed since their last treatment. The Hartford recently started offering women age 40 and older who have been treated for early stages of breast cancer the same prices as other women their age.

The prices for people with medical conditions-and rules for acceptance-can still vary significantly from company to company. Some have done the research to determine a spectrum of different risks among people with similar diseases, assessing, for example, how taking certain steps can minimize your risk of dying earlier, but others may still charge everyone with the disease a high rate. Some that tout standard term rates for people with certain conditions may charge higher prices for everyone to begin with. It's essential to shop around.

It should go without saying, but never lie on an insurance application. Insurance companies do check your medical records and generally send a nurse out to take blood and conduct other basic tests. Then they share that information with other insurers through the Medical Information Bureau, which reports medical conditions that the insurer found when underwriting your application.

If the insurer finds out that you were lying when you apply, rejection will be more likely because they'll wonder what else you left out. It's even worse if the insurance company doesn't discover your lie until after you die. At that point, they may be able to void the entire policy, leaving your family without any death benefit. It's a good idea to check your MIB record and make sure it doesn't contain any errors. Contact the MIB at or 866-692-6901. The MIB will only have a record for you if you've applied for life, health, or disability insurance within the past seven years.

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