Are you one of the thousands of people wondering how your A1C affects your life insurance rates, or even your chances of being approved?
It’s actually a huge factor, and one an underwriter won’t take with a grain of salt. Your current A1C matters, just as much as it has in the past. In fact, if your current A1C is too high, you may not even be considered at all. But let’s discuss this in detail.
A Quick Guide To How Your A1C Affects Your Life Insurance (And What You Can Do About It)
Diabetics have their A1C measured to provide an index of an average blood glucose level over the course of several months. This is an important test for people living with diabetes because it helps determine if their blood sugar levels are staying within a targeted range.
The A1C test is a blood test measuring a person’s blood glucose levels over a span of a few months. The test is used for screening diabetic patients and to determine pre-diabetes. The test measures what percent of the hemoglobin proteins in the body are attached to glucose.
For example, if the patient is measuring 7% A1C, which means 7% of the hemoglobin proteins have sugar attached. The A1C test is also referred to as the hemoglobin A1C, HbA1C or the glycohemoglobin test and is used in the management and research of diabetes.
Statistics and Facts
According to the American Diabetes Association nearly 30 million people, adults, and children are currently living with diabetes in the U.S. Of these cases, about 5% of those individuals have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, 90-95% have type 2 diabetes, and the rest have other, rare types of diabetes.
False results may be found for those who have sickle cell anemia or with family members with it. The results could be affected in this group of people because these individuals have a less common type of hemoglobin which can interfere with some A1C tests.
Additionally, false A1C results can also happen to people with other medical and blood or hemoglobin variables. These include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Iron deficiency
- Kidney failure
- Liver disease
Once the individual has been tested, the A1C test can still be useful to the monitoring of the patient’s blood glucose levels. It’s recommended for those meeting certain treatment goals to have the A1C test is performed twice a year until the patient’s glucose levels reach the suggested levels.
The A1C test gives an estimated average glucose (eAG) result to help people with diabetes to relate their A1C levels to daily glucose levels. The eAG takes the A1C percentage and converts it to the same unit of measure used by a home glucose meter.
More On Testing Your A1C
The A1C test does not require fasting and can be performed at any time of the day. In the past, it wasn’t recommended for diagnosing type 2 diabetes, but improvements in its accuracy have been made by the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program (NGSP).
While it is not recommended to test for gestational diabetes, the A1C test can be performed in the doctor’s office during pregnancy to assess the patient’s risk factors for undiagnosed diabetes before pregnancy.
Later during the pregnancy, an oral glucose tolerance test is performed to determine if gestational diabetes has developed.
Results will vary for patients depending on their individual diabetic history and general health. This will directly impact how their doctor might recommend one medication over another. Research shows the target level for keeping diabetic complications low is an A1C level below 7%, but again, the right levels will depend on the patient’s individual needs.
For some people, a less strict glucose level may be more appropriate because of their personal medical history. An A1C level between 7 and 8 percent may be suitable for people who have:
- Severe hypoglycemia
- Limited life expectancy
- Long-standing diabetes
- Advanced complications from diabetes including nerve problems, chronic kidney or cardiovascular disease
A1C results will show any significant changes in an individual glucose level over the period of several months. It will not show day to day increases or decreases of glucose levels.
There are two ways this test can be performed.
- If the samples are run through the test at a doctor’s office, it is known as point-of-care (POC) test. This method is not standard for diagnosing diabetes.
- The other way to perform an A1C test is to send the samples to a lab who uses an NGSP-certified method for analysis. This test ensures the results are standardized and is used for diagnosing diabetes.
The A1C results can show a range of normal, diabetic or prediabetic:
- Standard – below 5.7 percent
- Prediabetes – 5.7 to 6.4 percent
- Diabetes – 6.5 percent or above
Depending on the patient’s medical history, there are several short- and long-term effects of having A1C levels which are too high or too low.
Effects Of Low Levels
Having a low percentage on an A1C test would indicate the individual is not diabetic or prediabetic. Though a low percentage is a good result on an A1C test, especially for long-term health goals, having low blood sugar could be a dangerous condition today.
If glucose levels are severely low and go untreated, it can result in a multitude of health problems. Some of these include:
- Change in Mood
- Sleep Disturbances
- Unsteady on Your Feet
- Clammy Skin
- Muddled Thinking
If you are dealing with continually low glucose levels, speak with a physician on the best, safest methods to increase your blood sugar to a healthy level to avoid any of the above complications.
Effects Of High Levels
If glucose, or blood sugar levels, are too high, there are several ways you can try to lower it naturally.
- Make changes to your diet – Eating a balanced diet with little to no carbohydrates can have an enormous impact on the glucose levels in your body. Finding the right balance of healthy fats and lean proteins to maintain your daily caloric intake will be important when eliminating carbohydrates.
- Get moving – Exercise is truly the best way to rid your body of extra glucose. Simple movement, like a 15-minute walk after a meal, can help your body burn off any residual sugar. It continues to work even after you have completed your exercise by raising your overall metabolism.
- Adjust medications – If your A1C levels are high, over 7%, your doctor may place you on some form of insulin or other oral medications. When these levels are continuously high, your body may need assistance to control the glucose levels in your body. Taking insulin several times a day can help regulate these levels, and protect you from long-term complications of diabetes.
A1C test should be performed at least twice a year in people living with diabetes to check for extreme rises or falls in an individual’s glucose levels. Through a combination of diet, exercise, and insulin, your doctor will be able to recommend a daily regiment to control glucose levels to stave off complications of diabetes.