Please fill me in on the medical process of getting term life insurance.
May 14, 2014 11:31 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I are in our 30s, healthy, and would like to start a family soon. Before I get pregnant, I would like us both to purchase term life insurance policies. However, the idea of having to get a physical from someone who isn't my regular doctor squicks me out a bit. How does the physical/medical part of obtaining term life insurance work exactly? I keep picturing having to go to some shady "doctor's" office in a weird part of town - and in metro Los Angeles where I live that is not so hard to imagine. Is there a way to find out which doctors an insurance company uses to do some research beforehand?
posted by emily37 to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, I've seen some things that say a doctor or physician's assistant comes to your home - not sure how okay I am with having some random person come into my home to take my blood, etc.
posted by emily37 at 11:33 AM on May 14, 2014

When I did it, it was a questionnaire and a blood draw. Coming to your house for a draw is for your convenience. The folks that did mine were consummate professionals and did WAY better than hospital staff at getting blood without digging in my arm.

YMMV, and if you're uncomfortable, I'd imagine you could go to a doc's office or a Quest or similar for the draw. The insurer should be willing to accept the results from any licensed professional.
posted by bfranklin at 11:36 AM on May 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

My experience was exactly the same as bfranklin. We waited until I was pregnant so my rates are higher based on that "then weight" but I haven't lost the baby weight yet so I've not had it reviewed.
posted by tilde at 11:39 AM on May 14, 2014

not sure how okay I am with having some random person come into my home to take my blood, etc

They would be the opposite of random - the person drawing your blood will be an officially qualified health professional.

If you're still worried, make the appointment when your husband is home as well .
posted by Kruger5 at 11:39 AM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

My experience was very much like those above. I filled out some questionnaires and a nurse called to schedule a visit for weight check and blood draw at my convenience. She actually came to my office at work to do it, and the whole process was just a few minutes. The blood panel was pretty comprehensive, and they sent the results along to me as well as to the insurance company so that I could share them with my personal physician. All in all, I had no complaints about the process at all.
posted by goggie at 11:42 AM on May 14, 2014

Echoing what everyone else has said: this was actually one of the nicer medical experiences I've had. I have also had a phlebotomist visit me for a blood draw for another purpose, and both times they were amazing at doing the draw with minimal issues. Way better than my hospital experiences.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:49 AM on May 14, 2014

I had this done on Monday--two days ago. It was an entirely competent and pleasant physician's assistant (though I suppose it could be a doctor in some cases).

I don't know if you're envisioning a hack doctor that got dinged for malpractice after performing a drunken surgery or something--but it's much more likely to a nurse/PA who makes some extra money on the side than a scurrilous burnout looking to support his oxycontin habit.

I did make arrangements to be there when my wife was having her exam (which was a couple months ago), because we don't like strangers in our house, either--but not because of any squeamishness over the PA in particular.

You could perhaps end up going to Qwest or whatever, but I expect that the insurance company will want to ensure you have as little control over the exam as possible to protect against influencing the result (i.e., this would never be a doctor you know).

Also, of course, they will pull every medical record of yours they can get a hold of.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:07 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I will just echo the experiences described above. I found the whole process extremely pleasant. I can't remember if the woman who came to my home was a nurse or a PA, but she was excellent. It was also one of the easiest blood draws I have ever had. She was a pro at it.

We also chatted for a few minutes and she expressed satisfaction that this job allowed her extreme flexibility with her schedule which she needed for personal reasons. It made me feel good that me getting life insurance also helped her.
posted by bove at 12:31 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

My husband and I got ours done about six months after I gave birth. This was so we could both lose the weight gained during pregnancy. Keep in mind it's a premium locked in for 20 years, so it was worth it to us to get the rate as low as possible and I didn't want a higher BMI to ding me.

We had a very nice person come to the house, which worked great for me. My husband is needle-phobic, and the person - though very nice - was really bad at making the experience less stressful for him. She did a fine job of the mechanics of taking the blood, but when he disclosed he was woozy around needles she kept talking about how people frequently pass out (in general and with her specifically, um I wonder why?) when giving blood and kept bringing it up even after he asked her to change the subject. He wound up getting extremely lightheaded and almost passed out. In some sense it was good to be at home as it was easier to care for him during and immediately after the procedure.

I think generally you don't have a lot to worry about with this type of process, but just my two cents that if you have issues with blood draws you might want to be prepared in advance to deal with it, and potentially ask them the schedule you with someone who is good with tricky patients.
posted by handful of rain at 12:53 PM on May 14, 2014

I had this done about nine months ago and there's seriously nothing to it. Getting the physical was THE fastest and easiest part of the whole life insurance process.

The nurse was a friendly older woman, and she came to my home, asked me a series of questions, drew blood, weighed me and measured my height, and took my blood pressure. She did the whole thing while sitting at our dining room table and was in and out in less than fifteen minutes.

I was late in my second trimester when it was done, and they based the rates on what I said my pre-pregnancy weight was, which I was told was pretty standard and not a problem (and my sister-in-law, a licensed insurance agent, confirmed).

I got a full copy of the report after it was submitted to underwriting. The experience was professional and totally above board.
posted by anderjen at 1:15 PM on May 14, 2014

It's seriously not a big deal. It's not the most fun way to spend an hour on your Saturday morning, but these are travel nurses who do a blood draw, have you pee in a cup, take your height weight and blood pressure and a few more questions. Thats it. There's no pap-smear or breast exam involved if thats what you're imagining.
posted by fontophilic at 1:25 PM on May 14, 2014

I've had policies at various times through two different companies, one didn't do a health exam / screening and the other did.

USAA, if you have access to their insurance services, didn't require anything. I'm not sure if that was because of my age or military service at the time I applied though. (In other words, they may have just not bothered to do the health screening because they took the fact that I was in the service at the time as evidence of good health.) But that could be worth looking into, as their rates were competitive.

More recently, I got a policy through Northwestern, and they did the thing where a phlebotomist came out to my house and took a blood sample and asked some questions. The impression I got was the only test they actually run on the blood sample is cholesterol. They have enough data to basically have actuarial tables built up that depend on your cholesterol numbers (and the health questions), but not a ton else. They're almost certainly not sequencing your DNA or anything else especially interesting. Keep in mind that the only information they care about is stuff that they have enough data on in order to make actuarial predictions from.

I believe Northwestern had a no-medical-screening option, but it basically meant that you ended up paying the maximum, worst-case-scenario rate. So basically, by letting them run the screening you could only improve your rates from the no-screening ones, they weren't going to get worse. At least that's my recollection, YMMV and we're all dogs on the internet as usual.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:32 PM on May 14, 2014

As noted, its a pretty perfunctory exam, and the people are pros. However my wife felt that having someone come to the house was creepier than going to that shady doctor across town, so it depends on how YOU feel about it.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:47 PM on May 14, 2014

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