Let me start out by saying that traditional life insurance underwriting doesn’t reward treatment of health issues. That is as in
DOES NOT reward. There are still life insurance companies out there that will whack a client like a golf ball for taking medication to control high blood pressure. It may only be one rate class but for some it is all the way to a standard rate. The key here is the word control. They are taking a medication that has no mortality risk whatsoever and it is completely controlling a health issue that would otherwise have some mortality risk. This isn’t even clinical underwriting. It’s just plane common sense to reward those who are proactive.
The same goes for people who are proactive in their treatment of minor, or not so minor mood disorders, everything from ADD to anxiety to depression to bipolar disorder. I know there are a handful of people out there who are doing just fine in this chaotic life and world we live in, but honestly I think we would be better off as a society if we took the fluoride out of the drinking water systems and replaced it with Prozac. Road rage and abuse would be cut to a fraction of what it is now. But the average life insurance underwriter says you are being treated for a mental health issue that has a mortality risk. Even though it is well controlled you should get no better than a standard rate and with a lot of companies you will get no better than declined. Again, the operative word here is controlled. Well controlled bipolar disorder looks like, well, normal. These people aren’t pinging off the walls. They are treating their bipolar and they are among the most talented and productive CEO’s, physicians and attorneys out there.
Morbid obesity left unchecked is a killer. The strain it puts on your body not only damages the very frame that keeps you upright, but compromises your cardiovascular system, your immune system and can take you down step by step until you are too unhealthy to recover. There is no doubt that obesity carries a mortality risk. Again, the average life insurance underwriter will simply decline anyone who tips the scales too much. It’s not worth it to them to even consider whether the obese person is damaged goods or not. The assumption is damaged.
But, while obesity can carry a lot of health baggage with it, things generally don’t fall apart overnight and our bodies are resilient. While it likely won’t go on forever, our bodies adjust for as long as they can and during this time life insurance can be approved by a few forward thinking companies. 5’7, 310# is not even on most companies build charts, but if the weight hasn’t led to collateral health issues, there is insurance to be had.
And what about gastric bypass surgery? Again, the majority of companies see it as a desperate measure by someone who can’t just get a grip. The problem is that those underwriters don’t get that your immediate health is far more important than being a poster child for diet and exercise. When gastric bypass can cure type 2 diabetes, not control but cure, where is the downside. I’ve talked with scores of people who have undergone gastric bypass and are literally off of diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol drugs within a week or two. Immediately the strain that can crush your health in so many ways is gone. There are companies that see this as a good thing and while they are in the minority, they are some of the best companies in the business and know that they aren’t accepting unacceptable risk.
Bottom line. Insurance companies should reward those who take their health seriously enough to get the treatment needed to remain healthy but such is not the case with far too many companies. If you have questions or believe you have run head long into one of those companies that just doesn’t get it, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.