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How Does Life Insurance Cope With Mystery Illnesses

Mar 2, 2008
Life cover insurance companies have a set guideline for supposed ideal weights for optimum health. Stay within this range and your life cover premiums will be manageable. Step out of their limits and you are deemed a high risk and will pay premium rates for your life insurance.

Sensible policies it would seem, on the surface. With young people constantly striving to look like a cocktail stick on a diet and at the other end of the scale the growing trend for obesity, food has become an obsession that has far surpassed eating for survival.

Both extremities of this problem bring serious health defects including high blood pressure, heart conditions and organ failure, often resulting in loss of life and bringing cost to the life cover insurance companies.

However, while it is relatively easy to list current and previous health issues and your current weight on a life cover application, how do you explain a mystery illness? With the advances in medical science these days, they still do not claim to know everything and there are always new medical problems surfacing that require new answers.

In the news recently, has been the cases of several young children with unexplained eating disorders that certainly do not come under the parameters of bulimia or anorexia. One young girl finds that eating any food causes unaided rejection by her stomach. All her sustenance comes from a specially formulated tube feed and she copes with the psychological aspects and hunger pangs by eating Tic Tacs - the only thing that her stomach can handle at the moment.

After investigations by many specialists, they cannot find a reason or a cure to help her. Is it fair that she should be penalised for a medical problem that she cannot help but which makes her underweight?

Of course, some eating disorders are based in the psyche. A UK teenager has eaten nothing but chips for the past 10 years. It was recently discovered that she had gastrooesophageal reflux, a condition which causes indigestion and heartburn but this wouldn't be enough to stop food being digested. It certainly wouldn't be enough to stop me eating! I just know that indigestion is coming my way after a fat banana sandwich but it doesn't stop me eating it!

After treatment to reduce stomach acids along with counselling, this young girl has now been able to move on to plain burgers, plain noodles and potato waffles, although given that the noodles are only allowed to be purchased from one particular shop, it seems that this is more of a mental hang up than physical but try explaining this on a life cover application.

The recent case of a girl who can eat absolutely anything and not put on weight may sound like an anorexic's dream but is, in reality, a severe health problem. At only 12 years of age and four foot tall, she is severely under-weight at two and a half stone.

Despite eating six meals a day consisting of all manner of foods from her favourite fish fingers followed by chocolate to meat balls, pasta and fruit there is no underestimating her healthy eating regime or her appetite.

Despite this, she still cannot put on weight and has undergone a plethora of hospital tests from 150 visits to various specialists. Her parents have their own suspicions about the causes her problem. Her father was a soldier for more than 20 years and was subjected to many injections when he went to serve in the Gulf before her conception. This knock on effects of these jabs have long been discussed and the family have raised funds to take their daughter to see doctors in the US because UK doctors have given up on her.

This little girl cannot lead a completely normal life given that she has to have the assistance of an electric wheelchair due to restrictions imposed by muscle wasting. She is severely under-weight and her family are concerned about her long term health. Would it be fair for life cover insurance companies to penalise her on the grounds of weight when there is no defined illness?
About the Author
Health expert Catherine Harvey looks at how life cover policies can be affected by mystery illnesses. To find out more please visit http://www.theidol.com/
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