Monday, March 19, 2007

Surviving the Paramedical Exam to Acquire Life Insurance

I don’t know how many of you have taken out a life insurance policy but I would like to strongly suggest you do so. There are many phases in life that having life insurance may make a huge difference in the lives you leave behind. If you haven’t done this, get it done. If you have, make sure it fits your current situation by getting a review every couple of years.

In order to get a life insurance policy of any real value you are going to have to submit yourself to a medical exam of some kind. The most common is a Paramedical where someone comes out to you and takes blood, urine and basic vitals. The challenge is the phone interview by the examining organization and then the scheduling to actually do the deed. Be on your toes because this simple act can get very complex.

Sitting down to do the writing of the policy was easy. The wife and I decided to each get a policy. The lists of medical questions were very long and all encompassing. We were able to answer ‘no’ to almost everything so we passed the first phase. We paid our first months due and waited for the examiner to call.

My call came in a couple of days. They let me know the call was going to take about ten minutes and then we got going. After the basic information the medical questions started. I thought the policy questions were in depth. As the questions kept coming I started to wonder what level of privacy I would have left. Thirty minutes later and completely stripped of all privacy and have laid bare my entire life the interview part finally concluded. I was beginning to wonder if the policy was worth it.

The scheduling of the exam was the next major hurdle. I have a busy life. I don’t have openings in my day between nine and five. I use all seven of my days in a week to the fullest. Generally, my day starts at 5:30am and concludes somewhere after 10pm. I have a goal of six hours sleep and struggle to achieve it. These people wanted me to fast for at least eight hours and give them a half hour in their working window. Why haven’t these people figured out that this is everyone’s working window and they need to open their schedule to other times in the day? After four different appointments that never worked out for various reasons the day finally came.

I was surprised when I opened my door to find a gentleman in his late fifties wearing scrubs with his name embroidered on his chest. He had a grumpy disposition and a takeover attitude. This was a man on a mission and no one was going to deter him from his goal. His first goal was to get blood and he had a method. His attitude and determination to stay on task was a little much. I have the bruises to prove it. My wife didn’t fare so well. His method didn’t work on her. She is well bruised and will have to go through it again.

Between the wife and me we have seen a lot of blood draws. This might have been the worst. I can’t recall ever being on the receiving side of a great one. I look like a phlebotomists’ dream. They get all excited when they look upon my veins. As their enthusiasm goes up, mine plummets quickly.

Let’s hope that after all the abuse I get my policy without a hitch.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry you went through that with an examiner but maybe it'll be easier to deal with that memory if I give you our perspective.
This, in no way, excuses the examiner's lack of phlebotomy skills.

The insurance companies, not the agent, pays for our services. They don't pay much for all the things they expect us to do, so we are forced to treat our work as piece-work if we expect to be able to make a decent living. That means we need volume and need to be able to work quickly and be very efficient with our time. Not the greatest formula for warm and fuzzy interactions with our clients.

Trying to find a window for your appointment was probably extremely frustrating, for all concerned. When we set up appointments we have to take into account; travel time, traffic, weather, and other unknowns that we have no control over. We also have to make it work with other appointments and that means scheduling people in proximity to one another. We are paid a flat fee for the services we are asked to perform. Doesn't matter if the exam takes 5 minutes or 5 hours, and it doesn't matter how far we have to travel. We receive no compensation for those things, in fact, if a client no-shows or forgets to fast or forgets that we need a urine specimen, we have to eat that appointment time and the expenses associated with it.

You may feel like that's our problem, deal with it, but it becomes the client's problem too out of necessity. Until the insurance industry develops a conscience and starts compensating us fairly, these issues will continue.

We are self-employed and get no benefits. Most of us work early mornings, throughout the day, evenings, and weekends. How much more available can we be? And think about the time you would've spent if you had to go to a doctor's office for the exam.

I truly hope that the insurance companies adopt a different attitude soon, for the client's benefit as well as our own. What they do now is reprehensible.

5:44 AM, April 17, 2007  
Blogger ablur said...

I am surprised one would choose to respond in this way. I fully understand both sides of this issue. I was a license insurance agent in two states and dealt with this side. My wife is a RN and did home health sometimes having to deal with the other side.
This piece was written to demonstrate the obvious problems as you so well elaborated on in the industry. The telephone interview as lengthy as it was, was designed to verify the agent asked all medical questions and possibly jog additional memories that may be important to the insuring process. I did follow up with the insuring company as well, informing them of how dramatical different the questions were in the two cases.
I don't wish to move you from your chosen profession, but I would have preferred doing this at the doctors office. Generally, clinics have full labs and treatment rooms also being open 5 and 6 days a week. A professional atmosphere promotes a professional attitude.

8:53 PM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I chose to respond because there are 2 sides to every story and I wanted to present the other side. I doubt, even if the insurance companies were willing to pay MDs their rates for these services, that your experience would have been vastly improved. If you found it difficult to come up with a half-hour of availability for someone who was coming to you, how much time would you have spent traveling to a doctor's office? In the waiting room? In the exam room? And, finally, for the exam?
Again, I cannot speak to your particular examiner's level of professionalism. Like in any field of work, there are good and bad. I was simply trying to illustrate the things examiners are up against in trying to perform their job. To say that a professional atmosphere begets professional behavior is offensive to those of us who do our job well. I have had many, many, many clients ask if I would apply for a job at their doctor's office, usually on the heels of comments like "that's the best blood draw I've ever had".

I also chose to comment because there are many people who could read your comments and approach the experience with a negative mindset. With those expectations it's more likely there would be problems.
My guess, from your description of events, is that you were probably very difficult to get scheduled and may have been perceived as inflexible and demanding. It's highly unusual for any client to have 5 appointments without the client being part of the problem.
I certainly don't mean this to denigrate you, but maybe someone running for president has a busier schedule and higher expectations than the general populace.
Most of the people I've dealt with have found this to be much more convenient and relaxed than going to see a physician.

5:28 PM, April 24, 2007  
Blogger ablur said...

Since this is really important to you, you might want to read the rest of the story.

MD's generally wouldn't have to be involved. This is a lab tech or clinic nurse issue. You are choosing to inflate the issue above the need.

I realize that there are good and bad in every career field. If my story is a worse case then anyone seeking life insurance will be prepared for the worse and enjoy so much better. I had gone though this before but it was far better.

Please don't take this as an attack against you or your fellow workers. Not every company nor every person in your field is equal.

8:00 PM, April 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well this was informative from your experiences. Thanks!

10:14 PM, May 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was distressed to hear of your experience!

I am a 'paramedical examiner' with over 40 years of phlebotomy experience. (MedTech)

I expect that your problems are caused by the Insurance Company NOT willing to pay a 'decent fee' for the Services provided.

I work 12 - 14 hours a day, 6 days a week and make less than $20.000 per year. Could YOU Do This?

"You Get What You Pay For!"

8:38 PM, July 20, 2009  
Blogger ablur said...

As it turned out in my case, someone owed someone a favor and ended up with a poor choice.
Further, the tech was already having multiple issues with their company and I just fell into the middle of all this.
This was not my first time but this was by far the worst experience. In my multiple exams, I have generally found those who do the job professional and caring.

As far as pay and hours, I believe in the supply and demand curve. If you can't get people to do the job you generally have to raise the level of award. Careful examination of your career field may be needed to make this a job worthy of your talent.
I am a supervisor and trainer for a corporation with multiple locations. I am basically on call 24/7 and physically work usually only 4-5 long days a week. I am no stranger to long hours and I know few who feel satisfied with their level of compensation.

Sorry you don't corner the market on hard work.

9:26 PM, July 20, 2009  
Blogger rebecca said...

Iam so sorry for you bad expeience, as a phlebotomist, a starving one at that... looking for a job,m I have heard nothing but good things about paramedical examiners and their professionalisum, I have had excellent training and know sometimes you have a miss or a bad draw..But, In your case Iam again sorry for your bad experience..Most of us are good at what we do and do it well..

10:47 PM, February 10, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life Insurance is defeinitely an important thing to have no matter how healthy you are, you don't know what will happen. I shopped for my Life Insurance Quotes Online and was happy with the result.

9:08 AM, June 23, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will echo what the other examiner said about the insurance companies AS WELL AS the exam companies. The pay is low and the expectations are high and by that I mean the number of tasks put upon examiners, not professionalism.
I know of no other business where you are expected to commit your time and incur expenses to provide a SERVICE, not commission work, and receive no compensation if the work doesn't get done through no fault of your own.
Examiners are frequently expected to do the office staff's job and even the agent's job and, because we are contractors, have none of the benefits of labor protection laws of which most people can avail themselves.
Those two entities exploit examiners shamelessly and it's getting worse instead of better. Even customer complaints from persons such as yourself will fall on deaf ears because the bottom-line with insurers and exam companies is money. Whomever will work for the least amount of money will be given the work.
You, and others, will pay the price for supply and demand, particularly when there is an endless supply of noobies for them to choose from.

6:47 AM, April 15, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an examiner with over 20 years experience...I keep going back to the original post and reading that when the applicant finally had the exam completed, it was the 5th schedule date...

We, in the business, know what that means, 5 prior schedule dates and no compensation. Either no shows, last minute cancels etc etc. If you aren't able to fill that empty appointment spot, that's money lost for that examiner. Shame that happened..

When another nurse asks me about my job, I tell them I do not do it for the money - I do it for the freedom. I work set hours and my applicants will have a fantastic physical if they are able to get an appointment with me. I work 6 days a week from 7am - 12pm. If someone cannot make that work for them, then I turn it back in and let someone else have it. I get to say when I work and with the fasting time, I think those hours work best for most people.

Still, I get the applicants who cancel at the door (that's the WORST!) and do other things not knowing that we're not going to get paid if we don't do the physical.

Over all, I feel blessed. When my babies were born, I worked like crazy on Saturdays and Sundays and never had to put them in daycare - I got to see their first steps and hear their first words, all because I have such a flexible job.

The original poster had a bad experience with his insurance examiner, no one disputes that..but the blatant disregard for another person's time is really remarkable. 5 appointments...really?

In my area, we have a walk-in clinic that applicants can choose to use - the hours are 8am-4pm. The home visits are great for people who can't make it to the clinic - and there is never a lack of work for us. People love the service and we get many thank yous.

I can't speak for the rest of the examiners reading this but I would have tossed you aside after the second reschedule. You would have cost me money and that is unacceptable.

3:51 PM, April 29, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted this because everyone, from life insurance carriers all the way down to applicants and examiners, need to be made aware of how the paramedical exam business really works.

I would suggest going to to get some real eye-opening commentary about the inner workings of the paramedical exam industry. Especially newcomers or those thinking about becoming an examiner. I also recommend checking out if you're an examiner.

As someone already mentioned this is piece-work business, so it's all about volume; how many exams you can do in the least amount of time possible. Nobody wants to think such things exist in relation to medical work but it's absolutely true in the exam business and it's the only way to have any hope of making more than minimum wage.

It has also become a very cutthroat business. The insurance companies constantly cut the pay rates. The exam companies undercut each other's pricing, driving pay even lower, and offer more services (at the examiner's expense) without an increase in pay. Most examiners today are paid less than what the rates were when I started in 1988 when gas cost about 85 cents a gallon.

It's a job that can be made to look very attractive; be your own boss, set your own hours, get paid $20 for 15 minutes of work, etc. In reality, though, none of those things turn out to be true. The 15 minutes of work actually averages out to 90 - 120 minutes when you take into account travel time and the work that is done before and after the "15 minute" appointment. Fuel expenses are the examiner's responsibility, as is wear and tear on their vehicle. Penalties for even minor errors can exceed the amount the service pays, and just about every labor law on the books is routinely broken because examiners are considered to be independent contractors. Exam companies threaten and coerce examiners into doing work for free, and many require examiners to commit blocks of time to be available for work but without any guarantee that they will actually get any work.

The list goes on and on. It's not a good job choice for those who are easily intimidated or those who are afraid of confrontation or criticism. And it has absolutely become a "you get what you pay for" kind of business. Which, in my opinion, is unavoidable and appropriate when employers make all the money and leave their workers to fight among themselves for the crumbs that fall off the table.

5:44 AM, June 29, 2013  
Blogger Transcend said...

Thanks for the read. My Insurance Find

9:59 PM, November 16, 2014  

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