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10 Simple Steps to Passing your Paramedical Exam!
Article by Caroline Hansen, MD. Reprinted with permission, Georgia Medical Monthly
Most life insurance plans require enrollees to partake in a paramedical exam as an obligatory part of the underwriting process. There are exceptions such as no-exam life insurance policies, but these policies come with a much higher premium.
The paramedical (abbreviation 'paramed') exam is much more than a quick ‘look to the left and cough’ procedure. The physician will take a urine sample and a blood test, which will show underwriters information relating to your current wellbeing.
The stringent exam process is enough to make anybody short of priests and mother superiors skeptical as to whether they have done enough (or haven’t done too much) in order to pass the test.
People are often called up for a paramedical exam in order to join a group life insurance policy with their colleagues at work. This can cause very high stress levels among employees who fear that their heavy-drinking, joint-smoking lifestyle may be exposed.
Worry not. There are a number of things an individual can do to avert detection or at least to limit the extent to which any detrimental factors are recorded. It’s all about the preparation.
10 Steps for preparing for your paramedical exam:
- Time is of the essence: Try and get as much notice as possible. Weeks are good, months will be better. This will give you time to prepare physically for the exam in order to get the best results and save the most money.
It may seem far-fetched to start thinking about your paramedical so long in advance, but remember that term life insurance is for a matter of years and even a relatively minor monthly saving could amount to half your kids’ college fee over the course of a 15 year period.
- Watch what you eat: Start thinking early on about your diet. If you have a high fat, high cholesterol diet, then this will probably have adverse effects on your paramedical examination and thus will affect your application for cheap term life insurance. Salt and sugar consumption should also be watched.
- Watch what you drink: We often only think of the foods we eat as contributing towards a healthy lifestyle. Drinks play an equal role in defining your overall dietary health. Soft drinks are usually very high in sugar and a single can of soda can equate to the recommended daily amount of sugar intake, before you take into account anything else.
Caffeine is also an undesirable addition to a paramedical results chart, so watch your coffee and tea intake and also look for it in some soft drinks such as cola and energy drinks in particular.
- Medical matters: Be aware that pharmaceutical products can affect your specimen and blood test results. It is advisable not to take any medication at least 48 hours prior to taking the paramedical exam, unless prescribed by a doctor.
This way any chemical levels that are inconsistent with normal results can be easily explained. Bear in mind that inhaled drugs such as decongestant sprays can have negative implications when they show up on a paramedical exam result.
- Just say no: Drugs are not tolerated by insurance companies. Once discovered in your system it is very difficult to be categorized as anything but a drug taker by any insurer for the foreseeable future. This will cost you a packet.
Most chemical drugs will leave the system within a six month period, but the blood test can still detect traces of drugs over a year down the line.
It is thought that this is the reason for introducing the blood test, as this is one area where the urine test falls short. Casual marijuana users should abstain in the six week to three month period prior to their paramed exam, to be on the safe side.
- Lay off the booze: Alcohol is one of the major reasons for paramedical exam failure. You don't have to be a lifelong alcoholic to fail your paramed exam; exceeding the recommended daily amount (RDA) will create undesirable results. The RDA is 2-3 units for women, whereas men can drink 3-4 units. Most insurance companies are affiliated with the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA).
Even if you have abstained from drink in the weeks prior to testing, alcohol related factors can still show in your results. If your blood test shows that you have elevated liver enzymes, then it spells higher premiums for the length of your policy’s term. These enzymes don’t necessarily indicate liver damage, but can suggest that you are not in perfect health and therefore present you as a threat to underwriters.
- Quit smoking: Yet another obvious but highly necessary abstention if you want to halve your premium is nicotine. This is the jewel in the high premium’s crown and the creator of a huge portion of the insurance industry’s overall revenue. Help yourself by not giving them the satisfaction. You need to have quit for over three weeks giving the best impression in your paramedical exam.
This is easier said than done, so prepare in advance and seek support from your family, friends, and other former smokers. Think of the money you’ll save in the long run by a) not buying cigarettes/tobacco and b) securing a lower life insurance premium. Whilst nicotine replacement patches may be effective, they still leave nicotine in your system. If you want to come across as a true non-smoker, it is best to go cold turkey. Seek herbal remedies and other alternative treatments. Remember to reward yourself at regular intervals, and once you take the test, why not quit for good? You’ve done the hard work!
- Test yourself: With the initiation of the blood test came a wave of DIY home testing kits which are a good representation of your test results provided you don’t go through any great dietary and lifestyle changes between home testing and your paramed exam. You can pick these up from most major drugstore outlets for less than $20.00.
- Fast and hydrate: It is a good idea to fast in advance of your test. Before carrying out a blood test, an individual will usually be asked to fast for eight hours prior to testing for the sake of giving an accurate blood sugar reading. Failure to do this can inaccurately result in a positive test for diabetes.
It is a good idea to book your paramedical exam in the late morning and to make your evening meal the last thing you eat. Subsidize this lack of food by flushing your system through with plenty of water – at least a pint every two to three hours. This will help ensure you give the most neutral result possible at that given moment in time.
- Cheating is for losers: Don’t cheat! There has been a rise in people who have seen fit to cheat in their paramed exam. Don’t do it. No matter how stressed you are about the paramed exam, even if you are convinced you will fail, it’s better to cancel the whole thing or choose a no-exam life insurance policy than to give a falsified test. ‘Subbed’ or substituted urine samples are a common means of cheating in a paramedical examination.
If test results are seen to be a mismatch with the liver enzymes shown in your blood test, you will have been proven as a cheat in no uncertain terms. Cheating is taken very seriously by insurance providers, as it is in any financial industry, and is treated as fraudulent conduct which will be reported to the Medical Information Bureau (MIB).
Stick to these 10 principles and you should pass your test with relative ease. It goes without saying that quitting smoking, abstaining from drink, watching what you eat and making other-such drastic lifestyle changes is not going to come naturally to most people. It’s important to remember that you are helping yourself physically as well as financially in the long run. It is for your own good.
Increasing your odds of getting the best life insurance rate
The amount of money you will pay for life insurance, or whether it will be issued in the first place is determined by your health status, and life insurance companies determine this by issuing a life insurance paramedical exam.
If you are considering buying life insurance, or if you have already scheduled a paramed, what you do immediately before your paramedical test could have a significant influence on the outcome.
To increase your chance of getting the best rate, read the following:
What is the single most important thing I can do to prepare for the paramedical?
The paramedical exam will most probably involve a fasting blood sugar test. Your agent should tell you about this upon application and let you know how to prepare for it because if you are not properly prepared, you may have to reschedule the examination.
Why are people required to submit a fasting blood sugar test before being approved for a policy?
Fasting blood-sugar tests are important for underwriters as the exam then accurately determine whether an individual has diabetes or is pre-diabetic. It is of utmost importance that the paramedical exam's guidelines are adhered to. Eating prior to the fasting blood sugar test may produce unfavorable results and may even wrongly diagnose diabetes.
Are there any other important guidelines when preparing for the paramed?
When undergoing any health assessment, make sure that you rest beforehand and feel relaxed. Avoid smoking that day, as this can result in higher blood pressure and affect your EKG reading, should one be preformed. Try to be well rested, don't drink caffeine before the test and try not to be under any stress. The best time to prepare for a life insurance paramedical examination is weeks in advance.
If you know what the parameters are for the various rating classes, do your own test. If you qualify for the something less than the best rating class (as do most people), modify your diet and exercise. Seek the advice of your doctor before embarking on any intensive exercise regime.
Are you discouraged by your paramedical exam results?
Many people overestimate the state of their health and the results of a paramedical exam can be a sobering wake-up call. Don’t find it too discouraging if your rating class isn’t the one you initially hope to qualify for. Only you have control over your health and only you can alter the state of your health for the better. The paramedical examination is, for many, the beginning of a new, healthier era.
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