The name paramedical exam sounds scary. What are you in for, and will you even pass? If you’re in the market for new life insurance, chances are you’ve come across this term. If it’s left you wondering what you’re in for and if you even get insurance after it, you aren’t alone.
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Check out our in-depth guide on the paramedical exam, what to expect, how to prepare for it, and much more.
What is the Paramedical Exam?
The name makes it sound mysterious, but the paramedical exam is the combination of a personal interview and a basic medical exam. The exam is simple, and if you’re in good health, you have nothing to worry about. If you have a chronic or severe illness, however, it may show up during this exam.
The paramedic exam looks at basic factors such as your height, weight, and basic vitals. It also includes a few tests, such as blood and urine samples. Insurance companies look for high blood sugar levels, irregular kidney or liver function, high cholesterol, irregular blood cell counts, and the presence of illegal drugs or nicotine.
Why do Insurance Companies Require the Paramedical Exam?
Underwriters use the results from your paramedic exam along with the other information you provided on the application to determine the following:
- Will the life insurance company approve your application?
- What rating class do you fall in?
- What premiums will they charge?
Each insurance company has its ratings and requirements. In general, though, signs of high cholesterol, high glucose or hemoglobin A1C, proteins, or urine acidity may cause issues as they could be signs of impending heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
The test also looks for signs of drug use or nicotine in your urine. Illegal drug use makes you ineligible for most policies. Nicotine use may not make you ineligible, but only if you admitted that you’re a smoker on your application. Insurance fraud is illegal and will leave you without insurance.
How do you Prepare for the Paramedical Exam?
While you don’t have to prepare for a paramedical exam, there are ways you can increase your chances of approval. In fact, preparation starts when you apply for the insurance. You start by answering a series of questions about your health, typically over the last 5 years. This helps insurance companies filter out applicants that don’t meet the initial requirements before moving forward with the exam and underwriting process.
Once you complete the application, the insurance company will schedule an exam. At this point, you may start preparing by:
- Making healthy food choices (skip the fast food and sugary, processed foods)
- Focus on foods that help increase your good cholesterol, such as avocadoes, nuts, and fish
- Stay hydrated by drinking 6 – 8 glasses of water a day
- Stop drinking alcohol at least a few days before the exam
- Reduce caffeine consumption
- Reduce salt consumption starting the day before
- Avoid excessive exercise the day or two before the exam
- Drink a glass of water right before exam time
- Avoid nicotine at least an hour before the exam
- Discontinue use of decongestants
- Fast for 8 – 12 hours (scheduling it first thing in the morning is typically the easiest)
If you have hypertension (high blood pressure), avoid all stimulants before the test, including caffeine and nicotine. Also, schedule your appointment in the morning as your blood pressure may be lower than it would be later in the day when stress climbs.
How is the Exam Performed?
Depending on where you live and the timing of the test, it may be done in your home or at a third-party exam center.
In some cases, a physician conducts the exam, but it’s not necessary. Each insurance company has its own requirements. They’ll direct you to the company to call for the exam, which has the adequately licensed professional to conduct the exam.
During the exam, the medical professional will conduct the following tests:
- Measure your height
- Take your weight
- Take your blood pressure
- Blood draw
- Urine sample
If you are older or requesting an excessively large coverage amount, the insurance company may require an EKG to assess your heart health further, but an EKG is rare. Please note, if you need an EKG, it’s essential to avoid all stimulants before the test, as this could skew your results.
Beware of the fact that:
The medical examiner will also ask you questions. Some of them may be repeats of questions you already answered. The insurance company uses the answers to double-check the validity of the information you provided. They use the answers to your questions in combination with your test results.
For example, if you take prescription medication, but don’t mention it during your interview or on your application, the insurance company will likely find out from the medical tests. Honesty is crucial during the entire process.
Have Medical and Prescription Information Available
During your medical exam, the provider may ask questions regarding your medical and prescription history. Any medical records or prescription information you can provide will help speed the process along. This is especially important for medications you take currently, doctors you’ve seen recently, or major surgeries/medical issues you recently experienced.
You may need to provide:
- The name and contact information for any medical provider
- The dates of your visit
- Reason or outcome of the visit
- Names of any mediations you currently take
- Dosage amounts and reason for the medications
How Much Blood do they Draw?
Most insurance companies require 3 vials of blood, but each vial contains less than one ounce of blood. Most insurance companies need you to fast before the blood tests. Make sure you listen carefully to the instructions provided and let the medical provider know of any previous issues you experienced with fasting, including nausea, dizziness, or fainting.
How Long does it Take?
The paramedical exam can be done on a lunch hour, so to speak. The blood draw and urine test typically take as little as 10 minutes. The actual exam with questions may add on another 20 minutes or so, for a total of 30 minutes for a complete exam and 45 minutes to an hour if you require an EKG.
Can you Avoid the Exam?
The only way to avoid a paramedical exam is to purchase guaranteed life insurance. Guaranteed coverage means you get insurance coverage no matter your health. Most insurance companies ask a few questions about major health issues that they absolutely won’t cover, but other than that, you don’t need any type of exam.
The tradeoff with guaranteed coverage insurance, however, is the higher premiums and owner coverage amounts. You won’t find high coverage amounts available even if you were to pay the premiums. Guaranteed coverage premiums are often three to four times as high as regular life insurance premiums too.
Who Pays for the Paramedical Exam?
The insurance company covers the cost of the paramedical exam. You don’t have to claim it on your health insurance or pay out of pocket. Even if you don’t secure insurance because you don’t pass or just don’t want the coverage, you don’t pay for the exam.
Can you Repeat a Failed Test?
Typically, you cannot repeat a failed paramedical exam. What you can do, however, is switch to another insurance provider. You are eligible to receive a copy of the results of your exam, so you’ll know why you failed. Take the time to correct the issue, if possible, and apply for insurance with another provider down the road.
Paramedical exams are good for 12 months in most cases, but some insurance providers may require that you update your results. The key is to do what you can to pass the test the first time. Be honest with the insurance company about your health; don’t hide anything.
The paramedical exam will show the truth, and there’s no getting around insurance fraud or lying to an insurance company. Treat the exam as a follow up to the information you provided, and you should be in good shape.