According to a recent study, many Americans may erroneously believe they are ineligible for life insurance coverage. The 2012 Genworth LifeJacket Study found up to half of adults between the ages of 18-64 who have common pre-existing conditions do not have life insurance, with many assuming their condition will automatically disqualify them for the coverage.

However, a representative from Genworth says advances in health care have led to better management of chronic conditions, and many life insurance companies now offer term life and whole life policies to those with certain pre-existing medical problems.

"We need to redefine the word 'healthy' in the context of life insurance eligibility," said Janet Deskins, Genworth senior vice president for product development, in a written statement. "For adults with conditions such as anxiety, asthma, depression, high cholesterol and sleep apnea, life insurance can still be an affordable part of their overall financial plan, especially if they are actively taking steps to manage their condition."

7 common conditions no longer limit access to life insurance

The Genworth study found up to 54 percent of those with common pre-existing conditions did not have life insurance coverage. The following are the conditions identified in the study as well as the percentage of individuals with the condition who do not have life insurance coverage.

  • Asthma - 54 percent
  • Anxiety - 53 percent
  • Depression - 53 percent
  • Weight problems - 44 percent
  • Sleep apnea - 42 percent
  • Hypertension - 40 percent
  • High cholesterol - 39 percent

While some of these conditions may have made applicants ineligible for life insurance in the past, Genworth notes many insurers now use more sophisticated underwriting guidelines. Under these guidelines, individuals may not only have access to coverage, they may even be eligible for lower life insurance rates than those offered in the past.

"They need to know that by having well-controlled medical conditions, they may very well be eligible for preferred rates on life insurance," said Dr. Marjorie Keymer, vice president and medical director at Genworth, in a press statement.

More than half of Americans without life insurance

In addition to looking at pre-existing conditions that may limit access to life insurance, the Genworth study considered the overall number of individuals without this coverage.

In 2012, 52 percent of adults reportedly do not have life insurance coverage. That amounts to 118 million Americans. By comparison, 51 percent of those surveyed in 2011 said they did not have either term life or a permanent policy such as whole life.