Life Insurance and Your Doctor

We've got a new forum here: insurance "horror" stories. (Check it out: the link is on our homepage.) We've got a few things in the forum that were submitted to our reader's mail bag. I've posted them there for your reading and enlightenment. Here's one of my own.

When I met my husband, he had life and health insurance through his job. I did too. We had a good level of coverage, and we never worried about a thing.

Then, my husband decided to go back to school. No problem! I got him insured through my job and our good coverage continued.

Then, I decided to start my own business. Suddenly, we needed to buy private life and health insurance. I figured it was no big deal. After all, we'd both been insured for years through our jobs.

We applied. We gave all the required information, including the names of our family doctors. And we cheerfully sat back and waited to get our coverage.

We both got health insurance. I got life insurance. But my husband was denied life insurance coverage!

Turns out, my husband's doctor had provided information on an incident of depression that my husband had gone through a few years before. While we couldn't get a copy of what the doctor's records said (which is ridiculous, considering that the information directly concerned my husband), the insurance company assured us that the doctor's report had been the cause of his denial. So, my husband scheduled an appointment with the doctor to speak with him. The doctor blamed the insurance company and my husband alternately. His records were his records after all, and he had to report what he'd seen. (All this for a minor depressive episode, directly related to the amount of stress in my husband's life at the time, and which had virtually resolved itself.)

Now, the big problem with being denied coverage is that once one insurer has decided you are "uninsurable", no other company is likely to take a chance on you. So being denied life insurance coverage in his 30's meant that he might never get life insurance again! Each time he applied, unless at least 5-7 years had elapsed, that denial would be part of the shared databases used by insurers to evaluate prospective clients. This was not a happy thought for a couple who intended to have children in the near future, and knew that life insurance would be part of the required financial planning.

The good news is that our story had a happy ending. My husband quickly got a job as a programmer after completing his college program, and he got a reasonable level of insurance through his job, including life insurance. He didn't have to "apply" and go through a medical review unless he wanted a significant level of life insurance, and the basic amount of $250,000 was enough for us. (We aren't big on debt, so we didn't have to get a lot of insurance to ensure our financial footing.) His insurance has now been in place for more than 7 years. At some point soon, his denial should no longer be on "record".

In fact, my insurance coverage is now through his job. It saves me having to have private coverage, and the cost is much better than it would be if I purchased it separately.

However, it seems to me that this horror story is as much about your relationship with your doctor as your relationship with your insurer. I've always been a bit hesitant to tell a doctor too much. After this experience, I'm even more hesitant. I talk only about the most obvious medical issues, and keep my personal thoughts to myself. I don't volunteer information. What my doctor has on record could be used against me.


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