Obesity! Obesity! OBESITY! That’s kind of the way our country has been going over the past 20-30 years. I remember growing up in Wyoming and, as rude as I may have been, really staring at morbidly obese people. They were just that rare.

I get asked fairly often why life insurance companies rate people because of their weight even if they are completely healthy. Why does it cost more to ship dynamite than apples? OK. That was obscure, but the point is that underwriters are all too aware of the health issues that aren’t just sort of linked to obesity, but are absolutely linked to our national epidemic of compounding pounds.

I may be treading on thin ice here, but at 5’10, 175, better me than 30% of the country. Before I wade in too deep, let’s get back to the question, “Why wouldn’t you have a gastric bypass” if you were so obese that it could cause grievous harm to you?

These links between health issues and obesity seem kind of offensive when we consider ourselves to be a little overweight, but let’s be clear. I’m not talking about someone my height that weighs 210 pounds. That person just needs to take diet and exercise seriously. I’m talking about my height and 360 pounds. Life insurance underwriters understand what kind of strain that person’s body parts are under. To me that kind of weight is a call to action and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I am over thinking there is some stigma attached to gastric bypass surgery, or bariatric surgery. There is a point where gastric bypass surgery makes as much sense as surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed. It’s gonna save your life with the added bonus of giving you a healthy life back.

How do life insurance underwriters view gastric bypass? I would have to say that overall the view is positive, although cautious. That is to say that they aren’t going to hand you your new policy on the way out of the recovery room. Most companies want to wait until the weight loss has bottomed out and remained level for at least a year. In extreme cases weight loss will go on for one to two years, so it could be as long as three years before you are rewarded with the ability to get life insurance at very reasonable rates.

Bottom line. But the reward is there. Not just in lower life insurance rates, but in feeling better and being more healthy.