Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Refined Underwriting Seeks Holistic Approach

A new “holistic” approach to medical underwriting at the individual life division with Hartford Life, will make it possible for as many as 25 percent of applicants to be considered for lower life insurance rates, according to Robert Pokorski, M.D., chief medical strategist in the insurer’s Woodbury, Minn., location.

Pokorski compares it to using a “fine scalpel” to get a better read on how medical conditions will actually affect the health of a candidate for insurance.

The refined debit/credit system tallies medical risks but then adds back factors that might diminish those risks, producing a lower tally. For instance, he notes that there can be a 30-50 percent difference in people of the same characteristics who exercise and those who don’t. Those who exercise witness increased cardio strength and a decrease of muscle loss, Pokorski says. And, he distinguishes between chronological age and artery age, noting that “one is only as old as one’s arteries.”

But, he also says that as a person ages, the predictive ability changes as well and age becomes the overwhelming risk. For instance, he says that the blood pressure of younger applicants is more predictive than at older ages where any number of factors may contribute to high blood pressure. Another example Pokorski offers is called the “obesity paradox.” The paradox is that as one reaches 65 and beyond obesity is less of a health factor than for the pre-65 individual.

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