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Insurer Responds To Prostate Cancer Gains

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Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. says prostate cancer survivorship has improved so much it is offering life insurance at standard rates to many men who have had the disease.

Hartford, Simsbury, Conn., says improved screening and aggressive treatment have improved results to the point that 93% of men with prostate cancer can expect to live at least 10 years. Just 20 years ago, 1 out of every 2 men diagnosed with prostate cancer could expect to die within 10 years, Hartford says, citing data from the National Cancer Institute.

Hartford says it is the first insurer in the United States to offer life insurance at standard rates to men age 60 and older who have been surgically treated for moderate levels of prostate cancer. Previously, these men often had to wait several years to become eligible to buy life insurance and then had to pay significantly more for their coverage for 5 years, the company says.

Hartford is making standard rates available to men treated for “moderately aggressive” cases of prostate cancer, meaning those with a Gleason score of 6 or lower that were confined to the prostate and have been surgically removed.

The Gleason score, a standard measure used by pathologists of a cancer’s likelihood to attack aggressively, is based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst.

Those who qualify for life insurance must have a strong prognosis for survival based on surgical findings and the results of a blood test (for a prostate-specific antigen) both before and after surgery, Hartford says.

In 2005, Hartford became the first insurer in the nation to offer standard rates to some breast cancer survivors.

Hartford is offering policies to many women age 40 and older who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer.

The number of submitted applications from breast cancer survivors rose 50% during the first 4 months after the policy was introduced, up 4% from the total for the comparable period in 2004, according to Michael Kalen, director of Hartford’s individual life division.

“We’re hoping for the same results with prostate cases,” Kalen says. “In fact, the reaction could be even greater, because the population is larger than the breast cancer population, and more life insurance purchasers are male.”

The intended population of over-60 males are also prime targets for estate planning and business planning, which could also work to increase life insurance sales in the group, Kalen says.


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