When you visit your doctor, do they ask open-ended general questions about how you are doing? “How’s life?” they might ask, or “How are things?” As great as it is to have a friendly relationship with your doctor, you’re wise to be cautious about how you respond to such questions. In the end, what you casually say to your doctor could cost you thousands of dollars.
Why You Should Be Cautious
When insurance companies ask for a copy of your file from your doctor, they get access to every historical note in your file. Some doctors are very liberal with their notes, and even include comments you may otherwise consider to be “off the record.” In the context of a life insurance assessment, these comments can be used against you.
Examples to Learn From
A client was given an exclusion on his disability insurance for stress. Upon investigation, the exclusion resulted from two entries his doctor made in his file.
He had known his doctor for years. At the end of each appointment, his doctor asked him “how are things?” In most cases, by this time the initial reason for the appointment had already been addressed, and this was a more personal and general dialogue.
Six years ago he mentioned that his father (an alcoholic) was going through a rough time and it was a bit stressful for him. Three years ago he mentioned that his wife was going through cancer treatment and it was a bit stressful. His doctor wrote those comments in his file. Those two comments resulted in an exclusion on his disability insurance for stress.
Another client goes for massage therapy once a month, which is covered by her medical plan. She is a dental hygienist and works on her feet all day. One day she visited her doctor to get a medical note so her sessions would be covered by her plan. In doing so, she mentioned that her back gets a bit stiff and she feels that massage therapy is good for her. This comment was noted in her file which later resulted in a back exclusion on her disability insurance.
Be truthful with your doctor, but also be mindful of what they write in their files. Be aware of what you say, as it might relate to a future insurance application.