Simple Steps to a Successful Life Insurance Medical Exam

By Marcia Passos Duffy on April 14th, 2010

Life Insurance

A life insurance medical exam can cause some anxiety--even for those in great health. But if you are in good physical condition, are a non-smoker, and maintain a healthy weight, chances are that you can get an affordable life insurance premium.

But why take chances? Before undergoing a life insurance medical examination, follow these tips to put your mind at ease and get the best possible results.

What to Do Before the Exam:

The medical exam is scheduled by the life insurance company at your convenience, and may be conducted in your office or home. To present your health in the best possible light, here are a few steps you can take to prepare for your medical exam ahead of time:

  • Schedule your exam in the morning: Your body has the least amount of stress in the morning, which may provide you with the best results. If you are unable to schedule a morning appointment during the week, try to set your appointment for a weekend or the least stressful part of your day.
  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water the day before and the day of your screening. A urine sample is part of the medical exam, so it is recommended that you drink water an hour before your examination.
  • Get a good night of sleep: When your body is rested, you are more likely to get favorable exam results.

What to Avoid Before the Exam:

There are several things you should avoid before the medical exam:

  • Strenuous exercise: Strenuous physical activity, up to 24 hours before your exam, could cause elevated protein levels in your urine.
  • Food: Avoid eating at least eight hours, but preferably 12 hours, before your medical exam. You should also avoid eating salty and cholesterol-rich foods (such as fatty meats) the day before the exam.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can increase liver enzyme levels, so you should avoid alcoholic beverages for a full 24 hours before the exam.
  • Tobacco: Smoking or chewing tobacco should be avoided 24 hours before your exam.
  • Nasal Decongestant: Nasal decongestants shouldn't be used for a full 24 hours before the exam.

What to Prepare

During your medical exam, the medical screener asks you questions about your health history. Jacki Goldstein, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for MetLife's Life New Business and Underwriting, suggests that you have necessary information on hand before your life insurance medical exam appointment. You may be able to save time by having the following information prepared:

  • Your health history and the names and numbers of doctors who have treated you, including the date and reason for your last visit to your doctor
  • Your family's medical history
  • Lifestyle habits (exercise, drinking, smoking, recreational drugs)
  • Names and dosage of any prescription medications you are taking
  • Names of any over-the-counter and herbal remedies you are taking

The Day of the Exam

Remaining calm and avoiding stress the day of the medical exam may produce the best possible test results. Here are some recommendations for the day of your medical exam:

  • Caffeine: Drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, black tea, and soda, can elevate blood pressure and should be avoided the day of the exam.
  • Appropriate dress: Your blood pressure and a blood sample are taken during the exam, so wear a shirt with short sleeves, or with sleeves that are easily rolled up. If you are having an EKG done, you must lie on your back with your shirt removed or unbuttoned to place the leads on your chest.
  • Expect typical tests: Most likely, the medical exam includes a blood test, urine specimen, blood pressure and pulse reading, weight and height measurements, and health questions.

If you buy a lower face-value policy, you may be able to avoid the health history questions, "In some cases MetLife asks for only a simple paramed exam encompassing the basic measurements -- height, weight, blood pressure and pulse--and blood and urine work but without the health history questions," says Goldstein.

But if you are in good health, you'll be better off undergoing a medical exam. You can get a higher face-value policy and lower premiums.

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