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Sleep apnea can be nearly a life insurance non issue if it is well controlled, or deemed mild enough by a doctor not to necessitate the need for using a cpap. But it can become an issue when it’s not mentioned to your agent prior to the application process.

I had a client recently who wanted to make some changes in the amount and term length of his term insurance. This is a client who, on the previous application, had received a preferred plus rating. I asked if there had been any health changes or health testing that showed anything abnormal since our original application and the answer was no, so we proceeded with the best price based on his apparently still stellar health.

Everything went fine until the company acquired his medical records and found that within the past two years he had been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Since this didn’t seem to fit into my questions about changes or tests I called to see if I had misunderstood him. When asked this time he indicated that he had been referred for a sleep study but was pretty sure he didn’t actually sleep long enough for them to complete a study and he said that no one had told him he had sleep apnea or that he should be using a cpap.

So I asked him, even though he said it wasn’t a complete test, where we could get a copy of what was done. A few days later he faxed me a copy of the sleep study and it definitely showed a diagnosis of moderate obstructive sleep apnea with a recommendation for use of a cpap and further testing on a cpap. Then came the confession. He disagreed with the doctor and the sleep study so he therefore decided it wasn’t relevant.

From the standpoint of a life insurance underwriter, if a test is done and you are diagnosed and treatment is prescribed, unless you get a second opinion (not your own) refuting the first diagnosis, it stands as a fact. Whether you agree with it or not isn’t swaying an underwriter and choosing to just ignore the doctor is a swift way to a decline. Just in case you might ever want to apply for life or health insurance, never ignore a doctor’s recommendation to get a test and never ignore the doctor’s recommendation based on the results of a test. You can disagree, but those recommendations stand in the absence of another doctor providing an over riding second opinion.

If he had told me about the sleep study and his decision to ignore it we could have saved him the time of a new exam and application. I would have made it clear that until the sleep apnea issue was dealt with, he should just keep his current insurance, which is what he is now going to do.

Bottom line. There is a time in all of our lives when we hear something from a doctor that we don’t like or we think is just wrong. We have to deal with it. In this case if the moderate sleep apnea was being treated, my client could have received the best rate class with Prudential.