About Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder of the brain and spinal cord. It's characterized by neurologic dysfunction caused by damage to the myelin, the fatty substance surrounding nerve cells that normally facilitates nerve transmission. Because of this, MS is referred to as a demyelinating disease.
Nerve fiber damage is a by-product of the inflammatory process, and may be responsible for the irreversible neurological impairment in this disorder. Although the cause for MS is not certain, there is increasing evidence that a combination of genetic, environmental, and immunologic variables play a role in its onset and development.
MS Diagnosis & Subtypes
MS occurs twice as often in women as it does in men, and tends to be diagnosed between the ages of fifteen and fifty. The onset of MS can be sudden, and an attack may be brief — lasting as little as a few weeks. Early symptoms include inflammation of the optic nerve, weakness of the eye muscle, or tingling sensations or numbness in the hands and arms. The classic definition of MS is “two or more central nervous system events, separated in time and space (anatomical location)”.
Major subtypes of multiple sclerosis are relapsing remitting, secondary progressive, primary progressive, and progressive relapsing. At diagnosis, most people have the relapsing remitting type of MS. This subtype is characterized by discrete relapses with near or total remissions and no disease progression between relapses.
Many with relapsing remitting MS will eventually enter the secondary progressive phase, characterized by a progressive course, which may be associated with significant disability. The degree of disability is often described via an EDSS (Expanded Disability Status Scale) score. This score is frequently used by neurologists to measure MS dysfunction and is a strong prognostic indicator.
Life Insurance Underwriting for Multiple Sclerosis
The primary questions to be asked of a proposed insured who presents with a history of multiple sclerosis (MS) are:
- Age of onset or diagnosis?...or time since diagnosis?...how is it being treated?
- Has it been diagnosed as possible MS, or definite MS?
- If definite, is it relapsing remitting?...or primary progressive, secondary progressive, or progressive relapsing?
- What is the severity of the disease?...or more specifically, do they have an EDSS score?
- What is the number of attacks per year, on average?...is there any disability?
- Any documented remission?...or diagnosis of benign MS?
- Any related depression?
The underwriting for MS considers a number of factors when evaluating applicants, some of which include the subtype, number of attacks per year, stability of neurologic function, symptoms, complications, treatments prescribed, and evidence of disability. As MS follows an unpredictable course, the longer the condition has been observed, the more favorable the underwriting results are. Standard rates are possible, but rare, and typically we’re looking in the T2-4 range and up, depending on specifics.
Please see the MS questionnaire, which will help you gather the information we’ll need to help evaluate your case.Download the Questionnaire
As always, we’re here to help answer your questions, and provide the best underwriting services possible to help you place your case.
Click here to contact our underwriter, Mike Woods, with specific underwriting questions about multiple sclerosis (MS).