Friday, July 03, 2009

Insurance, Medical Exams, and Disability Being Natural

From last Sunday's morning newspaper reading: term life insurance premiums are going up. This is after close to 20 years of downward prices, something I was quite oblivious to.

According to the article by M.P. McQueen, prices on term plans have risen between five and fifteen percent in most cases and, apparently, the reason behind this is higher reinsurance costs that now exist because of a tightening in the credit markets.

So, if you're thinking about getting life insurance, you might want to apply before the rates rise even further.

Insurance. It's something most of us don't even think about, at least not too seriously, until we either get to be somewhat older, OR find ourselves faced with a situation we didn't expect (and in that second scenario, it may be too late).

For my personal needs, I am thinking lately that I need to look into both a long term disability plan and a long term care plan. Yes, I'm a good example, myself, of the phenomenon of "thinking something is worth doing, but never having actually 'gotten around' to doing it yet". Of course, I don't plan on becoming disabled or having to avail myself of long term care services as the result of an accident or illness...but who does?

That's the very nature of disability. Whether its due o an accident, illness, or a condition that gets worse over time and is largely age-related, it's not something you can plan for, simply because we cannot predict future events.

However, there is one thing that all of us can count on . And this is part and parcel of the human condition. The fact that "disability", whether it occurs as a function of accidental circumstances, or as a function of simply having been around longer on planet Earth, is quite natural. The longer you live, the more likely it is that you will be become infirmed in some way. And, in fact, it's not simply likely. It's quite inevitable.

Ok, back to the article I read and certain information that may be interesting to anyone who has to take a physical for their life insurance application.

The examination typically consists of certain body measurements, and blood and urine samples. Of course, the reasons for this are obvious. The insurer is attempting to gauge your longevity, risk of mortality, and whether or not insuring you is a safe bet or a poor bet. Certainly, everyone who gets an insurance policy and keeps it until death will see it collected on (by their beneficiary); however, the insurance company's goal is to extract as much profit from the sale of the policy as possible. And this means determining your probable longevity and balancing that against your premium cost.

Testing blood and urine and other measurements can tip the insurer off as to what conditions you may already have (diabetes or hypertension, for example) and allow them to produce a cost-benefit analysis on you as the potential policy holder. Sadly, of course, the two conditions I mentioned in parentheses, diabetes and high blood pressure, can result in a higher policy cost.

I say sadly because these two conditions, in today's environment, can be easily and handily controlled. Just the same, however, and to be fair, insurance companies stay on guard with regard to diabetes and hypertension...because so many patients simply do not take their conditions seriously.

What do I mean by this? They don't take their meds properly (properly means being fully compliant with regard to how a physician has directed the use of a medication), they don't watch their diet, they don't get exercise, they don't attempt to reduce body weight, or at least keep it in check through a combination of exercise and diet, etc.

Interestingly enough, McQueen's article stated that higher life insurance premiums for individuals with conditions like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and depression are largely a thing of the past because insurers have deduced that compliance with medications (medication compliance is a big deal when it comes to social security disability, by the way) significantly reduces mortality. And that may be the case when it comes to life insurance.

However--and it goes without saying that I'm no expert on insurance--I have the clear impression, and belief, that conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and mental impairments (bipolar disorder, depression) can have a much greater and negative effect on an individual's ability to become insured for health insurance. Yes, you can probably get health insurance if you apply for it privately and have one of these conditions, but the cost may be horrendous and prohibitive.

What do I consider horrendous and prohibitive? I've spoken to a number of individuals whose monthly premiums exceeded a thousand dollars. In nearly all cases, I was amazed that they could afford to continue paying.

This, of course, is why the national debate on health insurance is so so important, and for the following reasons:

1. You shouldn't have to worry about being able to get health insurance if you lose your job and have a pre-existing condition.

2. You shouldn't have to stay connected to a job and pass up opportunities to take other jobs because you have a pre-existing condition.

3. You shouldn't be in the position of not being able to take needed medications because you have lost a job and, due to a pre-existing condition, cannot get insured.

4. You shouldn't have to worry about something like the Medical Insurance Bureau, or MIB, keeping records on you for years, affecting your ability to get insured.

5. You shouldn't be subjected to premium costs that are so high that you simply cannot pay for insurance, though you would be quite willing to pay a reasonable premium cost.

6. Your insurance company shouldn't have the right to drop you like a hot potato simply dared to make a claim on your health insurance policy beyond routine office visits.

#Note: I have been informed by someone in the know that, despite McQueen's article, it is still fairly routine to deny individuals for life insurance if they have hypertension or diabetes. So, I suppose they're no better than health insurance companies.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Steps to Win Social Security Disability
How much SS back pay do you get?
Qualifying for Disability - How to Qualify for Benefits
Do disabled children qualify for benefits?
If you get SSI disability, will you qualify for other types of benefits ?
How to Get Disability with a Back Injury

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