Monday, June 20, 2011

The Life Insurance Soup Nazi

The Soup Nazi is a classic character from Seinfeld. If you aren't familiar, here's a recap:

You must follow a script very closely when entering his Hot Soup-serving establishment. The customer is always wrong, and you must pay extra for anything. Oh, and there's no backtalk. No saying a single word out of order - or that means he'll glare at you and shout, "No Soup for you!" As seen here.

Recently, we encountered that same scenario on the Life Insurance front - when exploring whether we could get a bowl of life insurance soup, so to speak.

Now, I have life insurance - a policy that's been around since my baby days, thanks to my dad and grandfather who've been longtime policy holders and made sure their children had one in place just in case. This has been in my name since I was born, before my diagnosis - even if I wasn't aware of it until some point in the past decade. As far as I know, my diabetes has never been an issue or brought up in the context of this life insurance policy.

Recently, the wife's employer switched insurance plans and they had some life insurance plan options thrown at them for relatively cheap amounts. Not something we necessarily need, but it was appealing for the low cost and so she asked about it and whether my longtime Type 1 diabetes would present any concerns.

The plan representative specifically said no.

Now, even though a knowledgeable observer may realize that this probably wasn't a true statement, I have no doubt this is what the response was from that person. Because often, when you ask simple questions these people have NO CLUE what the practical aspects of the plan or insurance generally mean to people. It's like they live in a bubble of happiness, with glitter and unicorns and everyone can afford the high costs of what they're offering.

Knowing generally that life insurance has some of those same "pre-existing" type concerns as general health insurance and can limit or restrict someone who's Living With Diabetes, it wasn't like this was something we were holding out any hope for. We were more curious. So the wife filled out the form and decided to see what would happen.

We received a letter in the mail giving us that answer: She got accepted, no problem.

But me, the diabetic?

"Thank you for applying to (Blood-Sucking Greedy Life Insurance Company) for coverage. After careful review, we regret to inform you that we are unable to issue Additional Spouse Voluntary Term Life Insurance coverage to Michael. We made this decision because of the information you gave to us on the Health Statement regarding insulin-dependent diabetes. We did not contact or receive information from anyone else."

Then it goes on to explain how you can get a copy of this statement, appeal or correct any information on file.

We got a good laugh about it. At first, at least.

I thought more about it later, and realized that from a business standpoint - it does make sense. You know, we People With Diabetes do commonly have shorter life spans than those without diabetes. Not that we don't have people living long and productive lives thanks to modern advances in the past few decades. They are a business trying to limit their payouts - and that means limiting those "high risk" individuals who present more likelihood to cost them money. I do get it.

In the past, I'd seen the JDRF and ADA both talking about life insurance and it can be unattainable for many in the Diabetes Community.

The ADA writes, "Once a person is diagnosed with diabetes, life insurance policies sold within the United States can become unaffordable or unavailable. This is because life insurance policies are allowed by state and federal law to "rate" or charge a premium based upon an applicant's health status. In addition, a plan can choose to not provide a policy based upon an applicant's health status."

Both organizations have helpful tips online - the JDRF here and the ADA here. A state-by-state breakdown of insurance regulars also can provide assistance on this topic.

Like I said, I get the practical business realities of this. But I don't like it, and really it depresses me.

We grow up hearing horror stories about diabetic complications and death, and we grapple emotionally and physically with the tolls of that uncertainty and sometimes even that real-life risk. We do everything possible to avoid those fates, and we highlight the success stories of those who've successfully Lived With Diabetes for many many years - even reached milestones and received recognition for that. But when it comes right down to it, the business decision-making of life insurers - at least here in the U.S. - tells us flat out: "No, you're more likely to die young and present a risk for us, so we don't want you."

Image Link Source Here.
Just not a very positive message, in my opinion.

But as I mentioned earlier, we're fortunate enough to have existing insurance already in case something happens and we didn't need this.

Since that letter, we've learned that they will actually offer some limited basic coverage - $25,000 rather than the full $50,000 - so I guess that's something. Apparently, the Right Hand offering limited coverage doesn't talk to the Left Hand that doesn't want me, but that's a whole other topic in itself. At least we can get a laugh and head-shake from it think of this Life Insurance Company as the Soup Nazi, waving his finger at me and saying...

"No Soup for You."

At least, not the good chicken noodle variety. You get stuck with the generic brand out of a box.

11 comments:

Trish said...

I applied for the -um- BABY life insurance that -um- GROWS with a child for my (at the time) 2 sons. The youngest was accepted, of course. The oldest, though only 2 years old, was not. Because he has diabetes. I remember one statement in the letter, "Though we are not making any assumptions of your son's life expectancy, we can't accept him as a client as it would... blah blah... money... blah blah."

Un-Apologetic Diabetic said...

Love the Soup Nazi reference! I have had so much trouble just getting health insurance, let alone life insurance. My employer offered a "one time" life insurance sign up with no health questions back in the day and I signed up for a minimal policy that they would allow - it was that or nothing. Seems I will have to always work at a job that offers insurance options, regardless of if I like it or not. :/

Amber said...

I was able to get a bare-bones life insurance policy along with my husband, but it took extensive proof that I was a "healthy" diabetic. Five years of A1Cs, medical records, etc. I haven't been hospitalized for anything diabetes related since my diagnosis 15 years ago and I don't have any complications, so that was a plus. The monthly premium for my policy is four times as much as what it is for my husband, and the coverage is only 30% of what he has. At least it's something, though.

Scott said...

This is an interesting, and too often un-addressed topic. While I also get the business reasons for this, and I live in a state that one could argue over-regulates industries including insurance, I still find the hodge-podge of state laws to result in inconsistent rights and availability of products such as insurance policies. Why is it that a person with diabetes in New York can attain a policy (albeit they must be able to afford the policy), yet people in a state like Nevada cannot? This is an area where the idea of having Federal standards could be appealing, but frankly, that is more an exercise of wishful thinking. However, patients can always move to a state that more closely-regulates insurance policy decisions!

Hallie said...

I was just thinking about this... We didn't get life insurance for Ave when she was born. Didn't think about it. Didn't think she needed it. And then, at 3 years of age, she was dx'd with D. And somehow we were talking to our insurance agent who said that they'd never cover her. To try again when she was 8 or something.

Now, it's not like we really need it right now. But that's not important. She is GOING to need it. And I'm not so naive that I don't see where this is going.

And... You don't tell my little girl she can't get something or can't have something simply because she has diabetes. Uh.... HELL NO! Enter Mama Bear who will do whatever it takes to make this right.

Because it's not right. I mean, I get it from a business standpoint- I suppose. But I don't like it. It's just not cool no matter how old you are. Grrrrr......

health insurance plans said...

Very interesting reference, I love how you compared it. Thank you for sharing this article.

mortgage lead said...

That was very unfortunate. The good thing that happened here is you know that you are denied before starting paying for the insurance. Some people are being cheated when the time came for them to get a claim, only to be denied for whatever reason that they can cook up.

Alex Stephen said...

Lately, all of us experienced which exact same situation about the Life insurance coverage entrance -- whenever discovering regardless of whether we're able to obtain a dish associated with life insurance coverage soups, as they say.Home Insurance Malibu

lilly martin said...

I am quite new to internet. but what you write in this post is really great and very informative. I think it will help me in the later. Thanks for the great job
california insurance broker

lilly martin said...

Hello. I learn some of ones some other discussions plus i need to for you to give you thanks for the enlightening articles.
Auto Insurance Westlake Village

insurance planning courses said...

Lots of citizens are finding the best out of best insurance plan for them. That's why they need a insurance planning courses. Today to be insured for your life through health insurance is very necessary for human being. India this is one of the toughest tasks to get the benefits of health insurance for a senior citizen. Its an nice blog.