At least a dozen times a week I get an opportunity to review someone’s current and historical health with them. I’m on a fact finding mission with the goal of getting each person the best possible life insurance rates they can expect in their unique situation.

Sometimes there is literally nothing relevant to life insurance in a person’s own or family history. Sometimes there is plenty to discuss about both past and present health. It’s at this juncture when clients are put to the test concerning their knowledge about the health issues they have gone through or are presently dealing. A surprising number, or at least it’s always surprising to me, kind of generally know about their health but don’t know what risk factors it presents for them or how to measure whether or not they have their situation under control.

When my doctor tells me something new about myself, I’m a pretty curious guy. And with Google I can find out plenty of information in about .23 seconds. A good example was recently when I had a blood test result from our local health fair come back with a high TSH reading. With the help of Google I found out that TSH stood for thyroid stimulating hormone and that a high reading meant that it was possible my thyroid wasn’t working up to its’ capability. I visited a doctor and had it retested. It turned out to be a false positive test so everything was OK, but the point is that I knew what was going on, what it meant in the whole scheme of things and if it had turned out to be a positive test, what type of treatment and prognosis I could expect.

When I talk to someone with diabetes and they don’t know what their hbA1c is, it really makes me wonder if they care about their health. This is a critical test in life insurance underwriting and a critical test for measuring control of diabetes. How can a doctor not educate a patient and how can a patient not educate themselves on aspects of their disease that are as important as this?

It never ceases to amaze me that someone can go through something as traumatic as cancer diagnosis and treatment and come out of that process not knowing beans about the cancer they had. How do you know if your doctor is discussing all the options for treatment with you if you don’t know what all the options are? How do you know what the options are if you don’t know the stage and grade of your cancer? For all the bad things that might be said about the internet, it has put a world of knowledge at our fingertips.

It surprises me that someone who has had a heart attack or has undergone cardiac surgery will have a follow up stress test and take the doctor’s synopsis that the “results were good” as relevant. How can you have a test like that and not question the results and know what each result means? Were my results good compared to a person who has never had a heart attack? Good compared to a person who has had a heart attack with my family history? Good compared to your last patient who had a second heart attack and died a year later?

Bottom line. An independent life insurance agent can ferret out the good deals for you if they have all of the relevant information. Without it it’s a roll of the dice. Quite often the information you provide will lead to or rule out specific companies. Two things. If you’re going to shop for life insurance, take the time to know about your health issues and, if an agent asks you to do some homework for specific information, do it. If they are asking for specific information they probably are an above average agent with an above average chance of getting you what you need.