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COVID and Long-Term Disability Insurance.

Updated: Aug 29, 2020

A slightly more practical post for today.

One thing I highly recommend and have discussed with my residents, other attendings, and even some non-medical friends is the importance of obtaining an individual long-term disability (LTD) policy to protect yourself financially should you become disabled. One SEPARATE from work.

Not necessarily a sexy topic, but one I feel strongly about. Especially now.

LTD is a form of income replacement insurance that can protect you from financial stresses should you no longer be able to work. These policies can even be underwritten to include True Own Occupation, meaning as long as you cannot do the job you have been specifically trained to do, you will be covered even IF you work in another profession.

There are numerous companies with numerous policies to fit the needs of their customers, so it is more a matter of personal choice and cost who you go with. For some professions, like medicine, LTD may make more sense than for others.

As someone whose father had multiple health maladies at an early age - including a heart attack at 39 and stroke at 51, no joke - obtaining one for me while in residency was a NO-BRAINER. Plus the earlier you obtain the policy, the cheaper your rates typically will be since younger, healthier people are less risky to insure. You may pay for more years, but at least at a lower cost.

However, I have many friends who think these policies are too expensive, and they argue they are healthy so it does not make sense to do so. But uhhhh, that is the POINT of getting insurance in case that no longer IS the case since life can change in an instant.

Like during a pandemic.

And no, I am not bringing this up because I am getting a kickback from any disability insurance company because I ain't getting paid shit by anyone 🤣.

It has, however, been on my mind more lately, especially after my recent shoulder injury. But what prompted me to write this specifically were posts I recently read on some physician community groups which made me concerned for those who have yet to obtain a LTD policy.

Some people who have been diagnosed with COVID and have now recovered are getting outright REJECTED for ANY LTD policy as a result of it.

Let me explain.

When you apply for a disability policy, the insurance company looks at ALL your old medical records and can underwrite your policy to possibly exclude coverage for specific conditions.

For example, I had been diagnosed with nonspecific colitis in undergrad. My policy was underwritten to state any colon-related disability would be exempt under my policy UNLESS I got a colonoscopy within a year demonstrating a normal colon. I never did get one and a few years later, I was diagnosed with mild ulcerative sigmo-proctitis so now I can never be covered for illness related to that.

But anything that happens AFTER the policy is obtained is fair-game for possible collection in case you are unable to do your job due to a disability. So if you are considering obtaining a policy and can delay getting evaluated for something - for example, a lingering hand or shoulder injury - then I would highly recommend you do so in case those injuries could impact your work in the future.

Side note: claims of disability due to mental health disorders are much more difficult to prove than physical claims, though it is possible.

But this is the main crux of the issue with COVID and why insurance companies may avoid insuring you like the plague - yes, plague was used purposefully 😬:

An insurance company cannot accurately determine your risk and underwrite a policy for a disease that not only may have systemic-wide effects involving multiple organ systems, but whose LONG-TERM HEALTH EFFECTS ARE UNKNOWN.

As a result, denied. Even if you no longer have any signs or symptoms after recovering because no one knows if you COULD develop a disability related to it down the road.

Just another reason to hate COVID.

So if you have thought about a LTD policy, I would look into these policies sooner rather than later. I know I sleep MUCH better knowing I have it, and I personally think some LTD coverage is something many people should consider obtaining to some degree, even if a bit costly.

Just my 2 cents. And since I am covered, I am not sweating those fat 2 cents I just put down.

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