What Does the Life Insurance Medical Exam Test For?
When you apply for life insurance, there will be a medical exam. The only exception is if you purchase life insurance that is Guaranteed Issue (GI).
Guaranteed Issue plans don’t have any health questions, and they do not require you to do any medical exams. These types of plans are perfect for anyone with health conditions that might not be approved otherwise.
If you’re interested in life insurance, you might be wondering: what does the life insurance medical exam test for?
Join Our Email List
Join our newsletter for weekly emails about senior interest topics like Medicare, health and fitness, gardening, retirement planning, and more!Sign Up!
The Life Insurance Medical Exam Is Nothing to Worry About
To ease your worries, we’d like to reassure you that the life insurance medical exam is a piece of cake. It’s very convenient because the individual who administers the exam comes right to you – whether that be at your work or at your home.
They will check your blood pressure, your pulse, and your weight, and they’ll ask you some questions about your health history.
The type of life insurance policy you’re applying for will affect how in-depth the exam is. For example, some medical exams will require you to do an EKG and gait tests, many will have you urinate in a cup, and many will also draw your blood.
In case you really want all the little details, we got our hands on a recent medical exam so that we could share exactly what is being tested for, and what those tests mean.
What do life insurance blood tests test for?
The first thing you’ll see on your lab report once you finish your medical exam is a section called “chemistries.” This is the results from your blood test.
In summary, the insurance company is testing for conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, anemia, hepatitis, certain heart conditions like high cholesterol and coronary heart disease, and infectious diseases.
Here's an actual list of the things the insurance company tests for:
The glucose test measures your blood sugar level. If you’re higher than normal, this could be a sign that you have diabetes. The normal range is between 70-110 mg/dL.
This test measures blood sugar concentrations over the preceding one to three weeks. This is another way of testing for diabetes. The normal range is 1.20-1.70 mmol/L.
3. Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
BUN is a by-product of protein metabolism, and it’s cleared by your kidneys. If your test results are high, this could mean you have a kidney disorder. A high result could also be from a lot of exercise or diuretic medications, though. The normal range is 6-25 mg/dL.
This test is another way of finding potential kidney issues. Creatinine is a by-product of muscle metabolism, which is cleared by the kidneys. If you’re on a high protein diet, you could also see an elevated test result. The normal range is 0.60-1.50 mg/dL.
5. GFR (MAYO)
This is another test to find kidney damage. The normal range is 65.00-186.00 mL/min.
6. Uric Acid
You guessed it – this another test that can detect potential kidney disease. Uric acid is a by-product of protein metabolism. A high level is generally associated with gout, but it could be kidney disease. The normal range for uric acid is 4.0-8.5 mg/dL.
7. Alkaline Phosphatase
This is testing for bone, liver, or kidney disorders. Alkaline Phosphatase is an enzyme found in the bone and liver. This is usually higher for children and pregnant women. The normal range is 30-115 U/L.
8. Total Bilirubin
This is a by-product of the breakdown of old red blood cells, and it’s made into a water soluble form in the liver. If the results are high, it could be due to anemia, chronic liver disease, and carcinoma. The normal range is 0.10-1.20 mg/dL.
9. SGOT (AST)
This enzyme has 3 main sources: skeletal muscle, heart muscle, and liver tissue. If your levels are high, it could be due to disease or trauma to the muscles, to heart damage, and to liver disease. This could also be high if you’re on certain medications. The normal range is 12-42 U/L.
10. SGPT (ALT)
High ALT levels can be from hepatitis and other liver disorders. The normal range is 9-58 U/L.
11. Gamma Glutamyltransferase
Say this one five times fast! This liver enzyme is present in many tissues. If your levels are high, it could be from hepatitis, heavy alcohol consumption, or certain medications. The normal range is 10-101 U/L.
12. Total Protein
Low levels can indicate peripheral edema or malnutrition, while high levels can suggest dehydration or chronic inflammation. The normal range is 6.0-8.5 g/dL.
Serum albumin is the main protein in plasma. High values represent dehydration, while low values are generally a result of renal or hepatic problems. The normal range is 3.6-5.2 g/dL.
High levels of globulin indicate severe liver disease as well as some infectious diseases and multiple myelomas. The normal range is 1.0-4.2 g/dL.
To measure your cardiac risk, your cholesterol (a blood lipid) will be tested. A high cholesterol level can either be hereditary or it can be from excess cholesterol-rich foods. It can lead to coronary heart disease. The normal range is 130-220 mg/dL.
16. High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
This is known as your “good” cholesterol. High density lipoproteins help lipids (fats) get to bodily tissues. HDL removes extra cholesterol from your arteries, which stops atherosclerotic lesions from forming. You can increase your HDL by exercising more, losing weight, stopping smoking, and eating less fat. The normal range is 25.0-75.0 mg/dL.
17. Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
This is known as your “bad” cholesterol. High levels carry cholesterol through your blood, leaving traces of it on arteries in combination of calcium and plaques. The normal range is 80-200 mg/dL.
This fat is derived (mainly) from eating carbs. If your levels are high, it could be indicative of diabetes, alcohol abuse, and pancreatitis. The test results are extremely sensitive to your diet. The normal range is 10-200 mg/dL.
19. Cholesterol/HDL Ratio
The lower your ratio, the lower your risk of coronary heart disease. The normal range is 1.5-5.0.
20. LDL/HDL Ratio
The higher your ratio, the greater your risk for coronary atherosclerosis. The normal range is 0.0-3.6.
What do life insurance urine tests test for?
If you have to do the whole “pee in a cup” deal for your medical exam, you might want to know what exactly it’s being tested for.
1. URN Specific Gravity
A low specific gravity can be related to diabetes or tubular necrosis, which a high level can happen when you’re dehydrated, have congestive heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, or shock.
2. URN Creatinine
Creatinine levels mainly measure renal function. If your levels are low, it could indicate impaired renal perfusion, urinary tract obstruction, or kidney related diseases. The expected range is 10.0-300.0 mg%.
3. URN Glucose
If you have sugar glucose in your urine, it could be the result of diabetes.
4. URN Total Protein
If you have excessive protein in your urine, it could be because of kidney infection.
5. URN Protein/Creatinine
This is another test for kidney disease.
6. URN Red Blood Count
This test is looking for any red blood cells in your urine. This could indicate disease or injury.
7. URN White Blood Count
If there’s numerous white cells in the urine, it could imply urinary tract inflammation such as cystitis or pyelonephritis.
8. URN Hyaline Casts
High numbers of casts are associated with renal disease.
9. URN Granular Casts
Again, high numbers of casts are associated with renal disease.
10. URN Blood
If there is any hemoglobin in your urine, it could indicate kidney or urinary tract disease.
11. Nicotine Metabolites, URN
Finally, this test is looking for the presence of nicotine in the urine as an indicator of tobacco use. The cutoff values have been established to separate smokers from those who are exposed to cigarettes through passive inhalation. The expected range is 0-0.199 ug/mL.
Life Insurance Testing FAQs
What STDs do life insurance test for?
Life insurance companies may or may not test for a range of STDs. We have never personally come across that in our office. However, there is an HIV consent form that you must sign, so they definitely test for HIV/AIDs.
Can a life insurance blood test detect cancer?
To our knowledge, life insurance blood tests do not detect cancer.
Do life insurance companies test for drugs?
Yes, life insurance companies test for drugs. Which drugs they test for depends on the specific carrier, but as an example, almost all life insurance tests will look for marijuana.
Does life insurance test for weed/marijuana?
Yes, life insurance testing includes a test for weed/marijuana.
Who pays for the life insurance medical exam?
The life insurance company pays for the life insurance medical exam. There is no out of pocket cost to you in order to complete this exam and blood/urine testing.
Do life insurance companies test for HIV?
Yes, life insurance companies test for HIV. When you fill out the application, you must sign an HIV consent form.
Life Insurance Medical Exam Tips
You can take a few steps to better prepare for your life insurance medical exam.
Here are some tips for the day before:
- Avoid things that could raise your blood pressure, like alcohol and red meat
- Take your prescribed medication but avoid over-the-counter medications like antihistamines and nasal decongestants
- Eat a light, healthy dinner and get a good night's sleep
And here are some tips for exam day:
- Maintain your normal blood pressure and heart rate by avoiding nicotine, caffeine, and strenuous exercise
- Drink plenty of water and keep any meals light
- Eat any meals at least two hours before your exam
- Wear short sleeves, or sleeves that can be easily rolled up
- Have your driver's license handy
What Happens When My Results Come Back?
Overall, you have nothing to worry about. Even if the medical exam results come back and they put you in a more expensive rate class, you can have the peace of mind that you’re able to get life insurance.
And if the worst happens – you’re declined – there are always Guaranteed Issue life insurance plans that you can buy without ever having to do a medical exam (or answer any health questions).
Are you ready to talk about life insurance? Click the button below to get started.
Schedule an Appointment
Book time right on our agents' calendars using our online scheduling system.Choose Appointment