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Big Bones…A Little Short for my Weight…Vertically Challenged

Being OVERWEIGHT seems to be the norm for the US population according to the CDC, jumping to over 40% of the population since the year 2000!!! The new millennium has given us Peleton bikes, a staggering number of fitness facility options, home gym equipment and the knowledge that being overweight shortens your lifespan. And still, nearly half of us are “overweight”. OBESE just sounds so harsh!! 

So, what is your CURRENT height and weight, and do you think you would be considered “OBESE” in the eyes of the current MEDICAL community or, in our case, the LIFE INSURANCE UNDERWRITING arena? A quick Google Search for BMI Calculator (BMI=Body Mass Index) can give you the hard number. The morbidity and mortality risks associated with being overweight include hypertension and the associated heart and blood vessel diseases, stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, type II diabetes and a host of other health related issues. We KNOW we are overweight and yet we do little to improve our HEALTHSTYLE. A sudden heart attack….or stroke…if you survive, can be your wake-up call to a healthier lifestyle….or, you can just decide to change today….one small step at a time. It’s the little things that make a huge difference long term. A better diet, healthier foods, less chemicals, more exercise (even just taking a walk every day)….and drinking more WATER, will all have a positive effect on your mortality. So much so that Life Insurance underwriters will give you “LifeStyle Credits” during the underwriting process while assessing your RISK…..kind of like giving your financial credit score a BOOST!!

The Life Insurance underwriters will charge you MORE for this increased risk so there is an ECONOMIC IMPACT to being overweight… costs you MONEY! 

A little Life Insurance history is in order here. About 35 years ago, when the HIV epidemic was sweeping the world and scaring all of us, the Life Insurance companies started ordering blood testing for all potential insureds ostensibly to test for the virus. The insurance labs were offering additional services along with the HIV testing that included cholesterol and liver functions, kidney functions, and urine testing (drugs/nicotine)…..and it was “cheap” if done as a routine package deal. The Life Insurance industry adopted these blood and urine testing panels as a routine requirement. Then the pricing people at the companies decided that they could further enhance their customer pricing to make their products LESS expensive to certain population groups if your cholesterol levels were lower than normal or your blood and urine panel indicated that you were “healthier” than the normal population. Now they were offering us PREFERRED rates instead of just STANDARD or RATED Sub-Standard.

These underwriting “bands” (Select Preferred, Preferred, Standard, Substandard) are all priced differently like “good, better, best” for mortality considerations. Your height and weight are easily checked on a “grid” for what category of risk you will start with. The rest of your medical history, medications, lifestyle credits…and debits, all figure into the underwriter’s calculations on your overall risk classification. 

Your Height and Weight measurement is a good place to start. Please contact us directly with specific questions or concerns because each company has its own Height/weight chart thank goodness!! Some are much more “lenient” with those who are “vertically challenged”!! It is important to note here that any significant weight loss over the past 12 months is counted at only a 50% credit (I lost 40 lbs in the last year but the underwriter will only give you credit for 20 lbs) since statistically, people will gain back at least 50% of this kind of weight loss. 

SURGERY FOR WEIGHT LOSS: Bariatric surgery, Gastric bypass, Stomach Banding are “unusual” risk classifications so please contact us directly and our staff will call you directly for additional questions the underwriters will need addressing. 

UNDERWEIGHT: being TOO skinny is also a health and underwriting issue as a BMI calculation less than 18.5 will put someone into a HIGHER risk classification. Any debilitating illness in this population group does not have the “fat stores” to stand up to the long term stresses of illness so a concern exists should this person become sick.