Life Insurance Blood Tests

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Researching how to get life insurance with blood tests in the medical exam and underwriting process? Do they drug test for life insurance? In this guide, we’ll go over what you need to know to get coverage and allow you to shop life insurance quotes online and get you insured at the lowest cost possible.

Contact us if you feel your health could prevent you from being approved for a life insurance policy. Unfortunately, rarely can we not find a solution for most people seeking life insurance with pre-existing medical conditions.

The Medical Exam and Blood Tests

When you apply for life insurance, the insurer will often need a medical examination to assess whether you have any illness, if you’re vulnerable to illnesses, and if you use drugs. A physical exam, blood tests, urinalysis, and an electrocardiogram (EKG) may all be part of the assessment.

The Medical Exam

Most life and term insurance companies give free medical examinations as part of their policy. The company offers the chance to verify your health information because it involves giving you a medical exam for free.

Third-party firms, such as ExamOne that insurance companies hire to perform medical exams, are in charge of most of these examinations. After your application has been evaluated, your insurance agent or the testing company will contact you to schedule an examination.

The examinations are quite easy and may be done at your house, at work, or in a local testing center. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to fast for the eight to 12 hours before your medical checkup, so plan ahead of time.

A standard life insurance physical consists of a:

  • Driver’s license check
  • Blood sample
  • Urine sample
  • Measurement of your height, weight, pulse, and blood pressure
  • EKG (If you’re a senior or applying for a large amount of coverage)
  • Series of health questions

The entire survey should take you no more than 30 minutes. The only exception is if you’re required to provide an EKG, in which case the exam could last 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Insurers sometimes require saliva samples or X-rays, but these are uncommon.

The Blood Test

Blood tests are done as part of the risk assessment for life insurance.

They screen for “silent” disorders that are not causing symptoms but may cause increased mortality risks, such as kidney or liver disorders.

They also assess current status in those with a known medical condition, such as diabetes.

Listed below are the basic screens that are done on blood testing.

Normal ranges vary slightly depending on the laboratory doing the test and the gender and age of the patient.

During a life insurance medical test, blood and urine tests look for dozens of health problems and illnesses, such as:

  • HIV and AIDS
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
  • Cholesterol, including LDL and HDL, and triglycerides (poor levels correlated with heart disease)
  • Hemoglobin A1C, fructosamine, and glucose levels (as an indicator of whether you may have diabetes)
  • Creatinine, hemoglobin, and proteins (to identify kidney disease)
  • Urine acidity (can indicate kidney issues or diabetes)

Diabetes Blood Tests

Kidney Blood Tests

  • Blood Urea Nitrogen is an end-product of protein metabolism and is elevated in kidney disease or dehydration.
  • Creatinine is a waste product released from the muscle tissue and is extracted from the kidneys. Creatinine is elevated in kidney disorders or dehydration. The normal range depends on age, gender, and build.

Liver Blood Tests

  • Alkaline Phosphatase is an enzyme found primarily in the liver and bones. Therefore, elevated levels may indicate the presence of bone disorders or liver and bile duct disease.
  • Total Bilirubin levels that are abnormally high occur in individuals with liver and gallbladder disease. Bilirubin is mildly elevated in Gilbert’s syndrome, while the syndrome does not elevate other liver tests.
  • Aspartate Aminotransferase is an enzyme found in the liver and cardiac and skeletal muscle. Elevated levels can indicate liver and muscle disorders.
  • Alanine Aminotransferase is an enzyme found in muscle, cardiac, and liver cells. Elevated levels commonly occur with liver disease and can be proportional to the degree of disease.
  • Gamma Glutamyl Transpeptidase is a liver enzyme. It is released as a result of damaged cell walls in people with various liver diseases. It is also sensitive to drugs and medications, e.g., Dilantin and alcohol.
  • Total Protein in serum includes two major components: albumin and globulin. Its measurement assesses the body’s ability to maintain its chemical balance.
  • Albumin is the largest portion of total serum protein. Therefore, decreased serum albumin can indicate many disorders, including advanced liver disease and malnutrition.
  • Globulin is a major component of serum proteins. It has many functions, including maintenance of the immune system. Abnormal globulin levels, both elevated and decreased, may indicate infections, allergic reactions, immune disorders, and other diseases.

Lipid Blood Tests

  • Total Cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary artery disease.
  • High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), if high, is associated with protection against coronary artery disease. The quantity of HDL and HDL ratio to total cholesterol is important in determining one’s risk of coronary artery disease. Markedly elevated HDL may indicate heavy alcohol intake.
  • Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), if high, is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease.
  • The Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio is a predictor of coronary artery disease. A ratio of 4.5 or less is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
  • Triglycerides are fats that provide a major reserve of energy for the body. Increases in triglycerides and other fats (lipids) can increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Ideally, triglycerides should be measured after an overnight fast.
  • LDL/HDL Ratio is calculated using total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides measurements. The lower the LDL/HDL ratio, the less risk of coronary problems.

Other Blood Tests for Life Insurance

  • HIV Test reports whether a person is positive or negative for antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus.
  • Blood Alcohol Test measures the amount of alcohol (ethanol) in the body at a given time.
  • NT – proBNP brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a cardiac hormone. Elevations of the hormone, and in some cases, low levels, have prognostic value for cardiovascular events.
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) is a glycoprotein found in tissues of the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, lung, kidney, bladder, prostate, breast, ovary, and thyroid. Elevations may be suggestive of cancer, smoking, inflammation, or benign tumors.

Drugs, Nicotine, and Marijuana

If a blood or urine test reveals that you take any illicit drugs, such as amphetamines or opiates, you will be denied life insurance. The only exemption to this rule is marijuana, which is treated differently by each insurer. Therefore, if you use marijuana daily, you should speak with an independent insurance agent.

The urinalysis checks for nicotine and cotinine, which is also done during a life insurance medical exam to determine your tobacco usage. The test may indicate whether you’re a regular smoker or if you’ve quit recently.

How to Prepare For a Life Insurance Blood and Urine Test

You should start preparing for your medical exam a few days before it starts. You’ll want to eat healthy meals and drink lots of water throughout the week leading up to your appointment.

You’ll also want to eat more cholesterol-inducing meals (such as avocado, nuts, and salmon) while restricting your intake of fried or sugary foods (which can boost blood glucose and blood pressure).

What Not To Do

You should cease or decrease your coffee and alcohol intake one to two days before a life insurance medical exam. You should also reduce the intensity of your workout regimen since high levels of proteins are excreted in your urine when you work out.

Avoid these Foods

  • Poppy seeds: False positives for opiates have been reported.
  • Vitamin B12 or riboflavin supplements may produce a false positive for marijuana.
  • Quinine in tonic water may generate false positives for cocaine.
  • Ibuprofen: It’s possible to get a false positive for cannabis as a result of this medication.
  • Sleeping medications: Barbiturate tests can be fooled by sleeping pills.
  • False positives for amphetamines can be produced by cold medicines and decongestants.
  • Snack bars high in protein: They might be mistaken for marijuana.

What to do if you’re denied life insurance coverage

If you’re turned down for life insurance because of the findings of your medical evaluation, the first thing to do is figure out why. Make sure to ask the insurer and request a copy of your test results from the firm that conducted the study. If something appears wrong on your initial exam, ask for a second one from the insurer.

Need Help Getting Life Insurance Coverage?

If you have a preexisting medical condition and want to buy life insurance, you will need help from an expert. This person can help make sure that you get coverage so that you don’t get declined.

Warning: Applying for life insurance without a medical exam can be risky. If you get declined coverage, it could be at least two years before you are able to get any life insurance.

Impaired Risk Life Insurance
Have You Been Declined Life Insurance Coverage Before?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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