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When A doctor says you’re doing just fine or you don’t need to worry about this or that, they really mean it. I suspect that in the short term scheme of things they may even be right most of the time.

But let’s not mix up a short term prognosis with an adjustment in your mortality experience. After all, if you’re 50 and can expect to live to be about 80 if you’re healthy, what is a doctor going to gain by letting you know that your health condition, on average, is going to shorten your life span 6-7 years. That is definitely not in the doctor’s handbook on how to win patients and influence people.

But it’s a problem when you are applying for life insurance. When a doctor poo pahs your health problem because he will likely be retired before you die, he sets you up with the expectation that the rest of the world will see your situation from the same frame of reference and treat you as if “there is nothing to worry about”. And I’m not saying that you should worry. Doesn’t help anyway.

What I am saying is that when a life insurance agent tells you that your A1c of 6.9 isn’t pre diabetes for underwriting purposes, you need to understand that everyone who has a 6.9 a1c is looked at the same by life insurance underwriters. It’s diabetic. They really don’t care how your doctor presents it to you.

I know I rant about this quite a bit and I really don’t know what the answer is. Being people like we are, we are generally going to take the opinion we like most and base our expectations on that. If the doctor says you don’t have anything to worry about then it’s normal to expect that insurance companies will treat you like gold. If your doctor says you’ll never be able to get life insurance because you’ve had a heart attack, then it’s normal to put your stock in a life insurance agent who has experience that disproves that.

Bottom line. Know that doctors and life insurance underwriters aren’t evaluating the same part of your life. Doctors are in the present and underwriters are looking at the distant future. Doctors are evaluating you alone and underwriters are looking at how your condition plays out on average within a certain risk pool. The real bottom line is to keep an open mind when your insurance agent’s opinion doesn’t seem to match up with your doctor.