Not every insurance policy requires a medical exam, but if yours does, knowing what you can expect, and specifically why you’re being subjected to a blood test, can help ease your mind as you head into your exam.
What should I expect from the blood test?
Your blood test is a small part of your overall paramedical exam. When you reach that step, either your technician or a phlebotomist will draw several vials of blood depending on the number of tests required for the exam.
Why do insurers require a blood test?
Testing your blood helps insurers check the accuracy of your answers to the medical questionnaire and whether you have any outlying health issues you may not know about.
What do insurers test for?
What insurers test for may differ slightly, but your blood test typically looks at the following:
- Prescription medication
- Nicotine or tobacco use
- Illegal drugs
- Cholesterol levels
- Liver function
- Glucose levels
- Kidney function
How to schedule your medical exam
You can schedule your exam at your leisure and choose whether you want to visit a medical facility or have a technician come to your home or place of business to perform the exam. The insurance company covers all of the costs of the exam.
Who performs the blood test?
Insurance companies typically partner with a medical clinic or group that has medical technicians on staff. You can make an appointment in line with your schedule, but you can’t use your own doctor for the exam.
Can I request the results of my blood test?
Yes. You can request the full results of your medical exam from the life insurance company. The company sends the results to your primary care physician, allowing you to access the records through your patient portal or through whatever system your doctor uses.
Can I submit the results from a previous blood test?
Generally no, but if you’ve taken a medical exam for another life insurance company within the past 12 months, your insurer may accept that.
How to prepare for the life insurance blood test
Realistically, there’s not much you can do to change your health makeup in the days before a blood test. But there are a few things you can do to give you the best possible results.
- Stay hydrated. Proper hydration makes it easier for the technician to draw your blood.
- Avoid smoking. A lower nicotine level can put you in a better rating class. You should also avoid marijuana in the month before the exam, even if it’s legal in your area, because some insurers classify marijuana users the same as nicotine users.
- Avoid alcohol and salty or fatty foods. Alcohol and salty foods are dehydrating, and high fat foods can increase your cholesterol and triglyceride numbers, which can affect your rating.
- Remember to fast. Because your blood test looks at your glucose levels, you are required to fast for the 12 hours before the test. Forgetting your fast time can lead to elevated levels that could affect your rating.
How blood test results affect life insurance rates
Your blood test is considered along with the results from the rest of your exam to determine your risk classification, which helps determine your insurance premium. The healthier you are, the lower your risk of dying prematurely, and the lower your premium.
Typically, insurance companies use the following classifications, though the names may vary:
- Preferred plus. As the highest classification, this rating is reserved for applicants with impeccable health, a solid family medical history and normal test results.
- Preferred nonsmoker. Second-highest class, for those whose results fall into an average range.
- Standard plus. Those who fall into this category have a clean family medical history, but some health issues that fall outside the normal or average range.
- Standard nonsmoker. If there is a history of serious medical conditions in your family history and your own health stats are average, this may be your classification.
- Preferred smoker. If your health would put you in the preferred class, but you smoke or have only quit within the last 12 months, this may be your classification.
- Standard smoker. This class is for those who smoke regularly, which puts you at high risk of a lower life expectancy.
What does the medical exam involve?
The overall paramedical exam includes a medical questionnaire and a physical exam with the following components:
- Recording your weight and height
- Taking your pulse and blood pressure
- Collecting saliva, urine and/or blood samples
- Running an electrocardiogram if you have heart issues in your medical history
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Alternatives to taking a medical exam
Most insurers offer life insurance policies that do not require a medical exam, but they come with some drawbacks. No-exam policies tend to be more expensive and often have a cap on the amount of coverage you can purchase.
- Simplified issue life insurance. Choose between a term or permanent policy, with a medical questionnaire and possible phone interview, but no physical medical exam.
- Guaranteed issue life insurance. This whole life policy can be purchased with no medical exam or questionnaire, but is typically capped at $50,000 of coverage. Guaranteed life policies are typically purchased by seniors to cover end-of-life expenses.
- Group life insurance. Policies offered through your employer rarely require any kind of medical exam or questionnaire. Group life also tends to be less expensive because your employer may pay all or part of the premium. But the amount of coverage tends to be low, capping at one or two times your annual salary, and increasing your coverage may require a medical exam.
- Instant-approval term life insurance. A couple of smaller online companies offer accelerated underwriting for term life policies, which uses algorithms to gather your personal data. You may need to answer medical questions, but you’ll only be asked for a medical exam if your answers require one to complete the policy.
A paramedical exam blood test is the fastest and easiest way for your insurer to assess your health risks. And with the ability to schedule a test at your most convenient time and place, subjecting yourself to the medical exam can be a great way to get the most coverage for the best possible premium. But if you’re worried about your results, or find the exam too invasive, compare no-exam life insurance policies for the best fit for you.