Since virtually everyone we work with on life insurance has some kind of health impairment, and since it’s my job to determine how that impairment is going to impact our ability to get affordable life insurance, I depend a lot on people knowing the facts about their health.

So, how’s that working for me? Certainly not as well as I would hope and I think overall not even close to as well as it should. People seem to be content with letting their doctor be the keep of the facts and the keeper of what all of those facts mean. There seems to be a concerted effort on the part of most people with health issues to remain ignorant of the facts and hope it all works out.

For example. For everyone with diabetes there is a test run by their doctor every three months or so, the HbA1c, A1c for short or glycated hemoglobin test for long. This test, unlike a glucose test that is a snapshot of your glucose level at that second, gives you and the doctor a very clear indication of how well controlled your glucose has been over a three month period.

How important is that? A finger stick glucose test can vary dramatically depending on the time of day, how long since you’ve eaten and so on. You might get a reading of 94 first thing in the morning and 240 after you finish lunch. So, while you and your doctor might feel good about that fasting 94, your average of those two is 167, well above what is considered normal. A normal HbA1c would be something below 6. Most people with diabetes would probably have a goal of keeping it below 7 or 7.5, depending on their doctor. So, what does an A1c of 6.5 mean?

It means that your average glucose is a little over 150. Not great but not bad either. From a life insurance underwriting view a 6.5 or below is considered excellent control and should, in the absence of other risk factors, get you to standard rates or depending on your age and age of onset, potentially better.

Bottom line. If someone has diabetes their A1c is a very important piece of information. It’s critical in the management and control of their disease. Probably 80% or more of diabetics I speak with don’t know their most recent A1c and 50% aren’t really even sure what an A1c is. For those of us with health issues we simply need to do better than that.

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