Retirement and Annuity Advisor Jennifer Lang
Don't Panic: What You Need To Know For Your Life Insurance Medical Exam
Updated: Nov 8, 2020
I don’t know about you, but most people don’t like exams – either taking one or having one done to them. But there’s no need to panic over your life insurance medical exam (yes, you’re probably going to have one). I’ve got some steps you can take before the “big day” to help prevent readings which may skew your test results or create unnecessary confusion.
One important thing to keep in mind is that the exam’s purpose isn’t to pass or fail you based on your health. Your insurer just needs to understand the big picture so they can assign an accurate rating. Oftentimes, the news can be better than expected, and generally good health is rewarded with a lower rate. Alternatively, the exam might uncover something that needs attention, like high cholesterol. That might be something good to know so you can make necessary lifestyle changes.
Think of your exam as a big-picture view. Your insurer will measure several key aspects of your health. These areas help determine your life insurance class, which is simply a group of people with similar overall health characteristics.
Your insurer will most likely look at:
Height and weight
Pulse/blood pressure tests
Tests can indicate glucose levels, blood pressure levels, and the presence of nicotine or other substances. Body Mass Index (BMI) – a measurement of overall fitness in regard to weight – may also be measured as part of your life insurance exam.
So let’s find out what you can do to prepare for your exam!
The most obvious cause that could affect your results is medications you’ve taken recently. These will probably show up in your blood tests. Bring a list of any prescription medications you’re taking so your insurer can match those to the blood analysis.
Over the counter meds can interfere with test results and create inaccurate readings too, so it might be best to avoid them for 24 hours prior to your medical exam if possible. Caffeine can cause spikes in blood pressure.¹ Limit your caffeine intake or avoid it altogether, if possible, for 48 hours prior to your exam. Smoking can elevate blood pressure as well.²
Alcohol has a similar effect on blood pressure.³ Try to avoid alcohol for 48 hours prior to taking your life insurance medical exam. Some types of exercise can also spike blood pressure readings temporarily.⁴ If you can, avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours before your medical exam.
Some types of foods can create false readings or temporarily raise cholesterol levels.⁵ It’s best to avoid eating for 12 hours prior to your exam, giving your body time to clear temporary effects. Scheduling your exam for the morning makes this easier.
Stress can affect blood pressure readings.⁶ (Surprise, surprise.) Try to schedule your life insurance medical exam for a time when you’ll be less stressed. After work might not be the best time, but maybe after a good night’s rest would be better.
Have any further questions on how you can prepare for your exam?
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Sources: ¹ Sheps, Dr. Sheldon G. “Caffeine: How does it affect blood pressure?”Mayo Clinic, 10.19.17, https://mayocl.in/2DB4pSt. ² “Smoking, High Blood Pressure and Your Health.”American Heart Association, 1.10.2018, https://bit.ly/2pSR2HE. ³ “Short-term Negative Effects of Alcohol Consumption.”BACtrack, 2018, https://bit.ly/2E5iOFX. ⁴ Barlowe, Barrett. “Does Exercise Raise Blood Pressure?”Livestrong, 8.14.2017, https://bit.ly/2GGKd6K. ⁵ Hetzler, Lynn. “What Not to Eat Before Cholesterol Check.”Livestrong, 8.14.2017, https://bit.ly/2J01mq9. ⁶ “Managing Stress to Control High Blood Pressure.”American Heart Association, 1.29.2018, https://bit.ly/2Ghc11T.