Insurance Coverage and the impact of your health condition

Acid reflux or heartburn, as it is commonly known, is something that everyone has ever experienced at one time or another. It can be described as a hot burning sensation from the stomach all the way to your mouth and is usually preceded by burping. In most cases, it results from eating meals that we are too spicy or ones that we are not very familiar with.

While having heartburn is a common occurrence, having them too frequently can be an indication of a serious underlying problem. This can actually affect your life insurance cover and the premiums you pay. This article explains how acid reflux occurs, its causes and how it can impact your life cover.

Acid reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

At the entry of the stomach, there is a ring that acts as a valve. This ring is known as lower esophageal Sphincter (LES). It prevents the food in the stomach from flowing backward. The problem comes in when it is unable to close completely. The acidic contents from the stomach start flowing back into the esophagus and this causes the burning sensation. This is what is commonly known as acid reflux. Having these sensations more then once a week, consistently, could be an indicator of Gastroesophageal reflux Disease (GERD).

Acid reflux can inflict serious damage to your esophagus since it doesn't have the lining that protects the stomach from the corrosive effects of acid, enzyme pepsin (aids in the digestion of proteins in the stomach) and bile. GERD is a chronic illness which means it has no cure. Once the esophagus is damaged, it might never heal and the condition will keep reoccurring. GERD is characterized by:
*Heartburn: Burning sensation from your stomach all the way to your mouth.

*Regurgitation: Occurs when a sour bitter acid flows from your stomach to your mouth.toms include

Other symptoms are bloating, bloody vomit and stool, constant nausea, hiccups, hoarseness, dry cough, and a sore throat.

Causes of GERD

1. Abnormalities with Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES)

There are two common abnormalities in the LES that can cause GERD. First, if the LES has weak contractions, it is unable to prevent the movement of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. The other occurs when the LES has abnormal relaxations. If these abnormalities are consistent and the LES stays relaxed for a long time, it can result in GERD.

2. Hiatal Hernia

The stomach is normally located under the diaphragm and this helps keep acid in the stomach. Hiatal Hernia results when the LES and the upper part of the stomach move above the diaphragm which makes it easy for the acid to flow out into the esophagus.

Other causes of GERD include smoking, drinking alcohol, coffee, tea or carbonated drinks, being overweight, pregnancy, lying down immediately after a heavy meal, eating too spicy foods, taking some forms of medications like ibuprofen and aspirin.

Treating GERD

GERD can be treated by:
*Quitting smoking and drinking
*Avoid food that is too spicy or can trigger acid reflux
*Eating 2-3 hours before sleeping and sleeping with your upper body slightly raised.
*Eating small proportions throughout the day.
*Cutting weight
*Consult a doctor on what to take for heartburns. They may also recommend some medications like Maalok or Alka-Seltzer

If simple antacids fail, your doctor may recommend:
*Gaviscon fro lining your stomach
*Prokinetics that help empty your stomach faster while strengthening the LES
*H2 blockers and proton pump to limit acid production

GERD and your life insurance

To most insurance companies, GERD is considered as an existing condition. While acid reflux is not considered as of major concern, the problem arises due to the complications that come with it. Other than the ones discussed above, there is another condition called Barrett's esophagus. It is characterized by the lining of the esophagus becoming similar to that of the stomach due to acid reflux. When this happens, it could lead to a rare case of cancer called adenocarcinoma.

In the event, you have this condition, underwriting principles of an insurance company will require you to disclose this and this will most likely impact the amount of premium that you pay. This should however not deter you from getting coverage. Your insurance agent should be able to get you an insurance company that is ready to cover you even with your condition.


While GERD is a chronic disease, with proper care, you can live a normal life. Dealing with predisposing conditions like Hiatal Hernia is a good place to start. Taking the necessary precautions like being mindful of what you eat and your lifestyle, in general, will go a long way in dealing with this condition.