I swear the medical community could use one extra course before someone is given the license to practice medicine. There is a profound problem in the integrity of the information that is put into medical records. It runs the gamut from casually putting irrelevant information in the records to office staff actually filing someone else’s information in your records. Everyone knows how much damage can be done when you apply for a home or car loan and there is erroneous information in your credit records. The same is true when you apply for life insurance and the underwriter runs into something that results in a change of your rate class and, in the extreme, a decline to offer coverage.

A few examples may help make some sense. A woman in Delaware was applying for life insurance. She was very healthy and we anticipated her being approved with very good rates. Once the underwriter got the medical records, they postponed the case until she would have a cardiac evaluation, a stress test, at her own expense. In talking to the underwriter he mentioned that the woman had discussed an angioplasty with her doctor. Knowing that she didn’t have heart disease, we got a copy of the records and investigated. Sure enough, in the middle of a page of her records, the word ANGIOPLASTY was circled. No other notes about it. Just the word.

This woman and her doctor got together and were able to remember that, while getting a regular exam, she had asked the doctor what an angioplasty was because a friend of hers was going to go through the procedure. Integrity in record keeping should certainly lead a responsible physician to do more than write that word on a page and circle it.

Another woman from Florida, again in great health, got an approval at a standard rate because the underwriter read in her medical records that her mother had died of colon cancer at age 44. We knew that her mother had colon cancer at age 44. We also knew that she was now 64 she was still cooking Thanksgiving dinners for the family. The entry was in error. Once that was resolved she was approved at preferred, half of what the standard rate would have cost.

Just recently a man in Wyoming applied for life insurance. This guy was a perfect specimen. Athletic, good habits, and from all aspects should have been preferred plus, the best rate class. He was approved standard because it said in his medical records that he was being treated for depression. An incomplete explanation and no followup notes led to the problem. The man was at his doctor’s office about a cold and mentioned that his father was dying and he had been kind of down about that and feeling somewhat burdened about handling the whole estate thing. The doctor gave him a sample of an antidepressant and a prescription for more if he needed it. The man never took the samples and never filled the prescription. He did call the doctor’s office and told them that he was doing well and didn’t feel like he needed it. No mention in the records about that. We were able to clear that up with a letter of explanation from the doctor.

The point is that everyone should review their medical records at least every year or two. You should always pay attention to what a doctor writes when you visit them. You’re paying them good money. Ask them to stick around for a minute while you read their notes and ask them to correct anything and clarify anything that doesn’t seem right.

Your family will likely survive you being turned down for a loan. You get your credit record fixed and reapply. Life insurance is another matter. What if you are turned down because of some error in your medical records, and before you can get it corrected you die in an auto accident????????????

This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.

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