Low cholesterol can result in policy denial
A declined policy is not always the end of the opportunity to place coverage. Underwriters are not trained medical professionals and therefore cannot diagnose the cause of an irregular result or recommend treatment in order to obtain more normal findings.
Each of us has seen commercials from pharmaceutical companies touting the newest statin drug that will reduce your cholesterol. Most people typically talk about high cholesterol findings and the increased risk of cardiovascular and coronary artery disease that comes with it. But, no one says anything about low cholesterol because the issue just isn’t as common.
In case you’re not familiar, cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced naturally in the body by the liver. The body actually makes enough cholesterol to operate efficiently, but of course, additional cholesterol is typically supplied in diet from the ingestion of animal products.
Occasionally life insurance underwriters do find a client with abnormally low cholesterol results, referred to as hypocholesterolemia, indicated as a total cholesterol of less than 160. Often the underwriter will review other aspects of the cholesterol report and issue the policy as long as results are marginally low (findings between 120 and 160), and the client appears to be otherwise healthy.
When cholesterol results are less than 120, medical records typically are reviewed more closely to determine whether the client has had low cholesterol for many years monitored by a physician, or if the cholesterol may have suddenly begun to plummet as the result of something more serious.
Why is hypocholesterolemia a big deal?
Cholesterol is needed by the body in order for it to function safely and efficiently. Cholesterol is needed to insulate nerves, make cell membranes, aid in digestion and to produce hormones. Pregnant women with abnormally low cholesterol can deliver prematurely and increase the risk of birth defects or even autism for their infant children.
An abnormally low result could also indicate a problem with the liver, an overactive thyroid gland or a rare genetic disease. Low cholesterol may also be the result of malabsorption (inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestines), malnutrition or celiac disease.
Low cholesterol is also linked to increased anxiety, depression and suicide risk. Hypocholesterolemia may signify poor overall health in general. A cholesterol result which becomes suddenly low may be the result of the body fighting a serious illness, such as an undiagnosed cancer.
A declined policy is not always the end of the opportunity to place coverage. Underwriters are not trained medical professionals and therefore cannot diagnose the cause of an irregular result or recommend treatment in order to obtain more normal findings. Therefore, a client with very irregular findings is often sent back to his or her own physician so that additional tests may be completed and reviewed to determine if there is a serious problem. Additional results obtained by the medical doctor can always be submitted back to a carrier along with a clarification.