Life Insurance premiums are based on many components and the premium you end up paying can vary significantly in your approach to reviewing your life insurance needs. It’s always good to review your health history with multiple insurance companies as each company has it’s own underwriting criteria. It’s alway important to review your options and to shop around as covered under the Insurance Bill of Rights: The Right to Free Choice.
Once you’ve selected a company, a common requirement is a para-med exam. The following guest blog post from Jimmy McMillan of Heart Life takes an depth look at what a paramed exam is and how to prepare for it. A big thank you to Jimmy for this informative article. Jimmy has also granted permission to post his in-depth step by step guide to getting the best results for your paramed exam.
For a life insurance company to pledge millions of dollars for your family’s welfare, they need a clear, precise picture of your health. As technology advances, most of this information is contained in massive databases and is obtained in a non-invasive manner.
Most of your health history information you cannot do anything about. It is out of your hands. However, there is one area where you can have a positive impact: your paramedical exam (or paramed). Though it sounds intimidating, the paramedical exam is nothing to get worried about.
It can all be completed in the comfort of your home or office in about 30 minutes. Answer a few health questions and submit a blood / urine sample to a nurse. That’s it! It is so simple most people don’t even take it seriously.
What if you did take it seriously and what if you focused on your paramedical exam? I would suggest you pay attention to your paramedical exam
What if you could save thousands of dollars on your life insurance by performing well on your this paramed? Think of what your family could do with that money. Maybe take a vacation?
First we will go over the health information that you cannot control, things like your prescription history and your Medical Information Bureau file. There is not much you can do about these things.
Then, we will show you 21 proactive tips to help you ace your paramedical exam. This will give you the chance to take control over your life insurance application approval.
Make your mark on this paramed exam, and save thousands for that family vacation. Read on!
- Prescription Database Check: Life insurance companies will pull a prescription check from a company such as ScriptCheck by Exam One. With your permission, they access a database with information provided by drug store chains, retail pharmacies, health insurance groups, fraternal benefit organizations, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs). What matters here is which prescription medications were filled – and when. This opens a glimpse into both health conditions you may have, and the repeat prescriptions filled give an idea of how you are maintaining your condition.
- What looks good on a prescription check? Regular prescriptions filled for conditions you noted on your application look good on a prescription check. So it’s a good thing when you get your Simvastatin refilled every 60 days for the high cholesterol you acknowledged. It verifies the health concern you noted on the life insurance application, and shows you are doing something about it.
- What looks bad on a prescription check? Irregular prescriptions filled or prescriptions that suggest an illness you did not disclose. Coumadin, warfarin, heparin or thrombolytic prescriptions will raise eyebrows if you claim to have a clean cardiovascular health history.
- Medical Information Bureau or MIB. Next, they will access the medical information bureau, or MIB. The MIB contains information shared among insurance companies from prior insurance applications and interactions. The information is HIPAA compliant, and it is coded to protect your privacy. In general there will be little information about healthy people. Most of the codes are related to health or lifestyle conditions that are significant to an underwriter, such as records of a heart attack or reckless driving. Underwriters are looking at medical impairments, medical treatments for those impairments and when that health history was diagnosed. They are also looking for when a life insurance application was filled out. An underwriter will not deny an application based on the MIB information alone. However, if there are MIB discrepancies additional supporting documentation will be required.
- What looks good from the Medical Information Bureau? High blood sugar readings from a prior life insurance application would show a future underwriter to pay attention to blood sugar readings on future applications. As long as the findings are consistent with your application, the MIB information will help the policy be approved faster.
- What looks bad from the MIB? There is no such thing as a “bad MIB,” however findings that don’t match your application will raise red flags. For instance, information about a heart attack last year reported to your health insurance company that you did not disclose on your life insurance application would cause an underwriter to pause.
- The Attending Physicians Statement, or APS. Underwriters may request information from your current doctor called an attending physicians statement or APS. Insurance companies will only request an APS when they need to clear up some medical questions, or if your application notes a condition that they need more information on (like atrial fibrillation or gastric bypass surgery). This kind of report takes a few weeks to complete, and the life insurance companies have to spend money to get it. So they are only going to request an APS when they really need it.
- What looks good here? Regular checkups and doctor visits show an active interest in maintaining your health. If there is a serious health condition, it looks good if that condition is stable or improving.
- What looks bad on your APS? If you’re downright ignoring your doctor’s suggestions to improve your health, an underwriter will take that as an omen. For example, continuing to drink even after blood tests show you have elevated liver enzymes would signal a warning on your APS. Also irregular or sporadic visits to your primary care physician propose that you are not taking your health very seriously at all.
Now what? How Can You Help Your Case?
With some time and preparation you can improve your life insurance health class by “acing” your medical exam. Great blood pressure numbers, great blood labs and a great paramed can really make you shine to an underwriter.
What is this new shine worth? The difference between each life insurance health class is roughly 25% in annual premiums. Your medical exam could swing your rate up–or down–by one or two health classes.
So you could save up to 50% on your life insurance just by this doing your best on medical exam.
You will have this life insurance policy for a long long time, so those savings can add up to tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the policy.
You know when the nurse is coming. It is not a “pop quiz,” and I am not advocating extreme lifestyle changes.
As a veteran of thousands of life insurance applications and thousands of medical exams, I know what works and what doesn’t. Minor adjustments can yield major results in just a few days, and these minor adjustments are what we will explore.
If you have two weeks before your exam:
Use every applicable tip in the info graphic below. You have enough time to make a real difference in your life insurance health class, so get to work!
What if you have one week be before the exam?
Cut out the sodium and skip the salt. Hi-sodium processed foods like lunch meat will mess with the electrolyte balance in your blood. This makes your heart work harder and blood pressure higher.
Exercise more. Drink alcohol less. Take a few cold showers, develop a habit of drinking lots of water.
What if you only have one day before the exam?
Avoid shellfish, avoid alcohol altogether and make sure to drink a gallon of water throughout the day.
Skip the gym and any other excessive exercise, and get a great night sleep.
Think of ocean waves, or a peaceful forest, or imagine yourself stargazing. Think of anything that calms you and breathe deeply. Breathing deeply and using these imagination techniques will help you lower your blood pressure.
After all of the tips on the info graphic below we will add a bonus tip that could help you save even more money.
Scroll down for bonus tips!
Bonus Tip #1
Lie down to take your blood pressure, the nurse will allow you to do this. Keeping your arm horizontally level with your heart makes it easier for your heart to pump blood to the blood pressure cuff. This may save 5-10 points on the reading.
Bonus Tip #2
The best way to Ace an exam? Don’t take it in the first place
Is worthwhile to know these options. More and more life insurance companies are able to get a clear picture of your health without an exam. So unless you stand to directly benefit from a paramedical exam, you might consider skipping it all together.
If you have a serious health condition, these options may not apply. However, if you are relatively healthy, have a conversation with your life insurance adviser about the no exam options available to you.
Bottom line? Do your best on your life insurance medical exam and you can lower your life insurance rates. All it takes is a little bit of effort.
About the Author:
Jimmy McMillan is the owner of Heart Life Insurance where he specializes in underwriting life insurance with heart problems. He has successfully approved clients with heart issues like heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, angioplasty, multiple stents and mitral valve disorders. The infographic above was re-printed courtesy of Jimmy McMillan and Heart Life (click here to see original).
He is a fine fisherman who lives with the catch of his life, Emily, in Palm Coast FL.
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