Education, it seems, is a magic elixir. Furthermore, its effect appears to be increasing. In a 2008 article that appeared
in Health Affairs, researchers Ellen Meara, Seth Richards, and
David Cutler report finding an approximately eight-year difference in life expectancy at age 25 in 2000 between men with
a high school education or less and men with any college—an
increase of 1. 5 years from 1990.
Interestingly, while socioeconomic status is nearly ignored
in life underwriting, its use is common in other forms of insurance underwriting. Nearly every auto insurance company gives
good-student discounts. Professional status and income are used
to qualify applicants and underwrite individual disability insurance. Group life and disability insurance rates
commonly vary by industry and average em-ployee-compensation levels.
People buying insurance self-select
individual life policy face amounts based
on socioeconomic status. Those who buy
and can afford to renew large policies
have higher socioeconomic status,
on average, than those who buy and
renew small policies.
extreme habits: driving while intoxicated, not average driving
speed; illicit drug abuse, not prescription drug noncompliance;
obesity, not overall quality of diet. While extreme habits are
useful for raising red flags in underwriting, they are much less
useful for differentiating the masses.
People who are more responsible with their health also
tend to be more responsible with their financial management.
Therefore, in spite of public and regulatory resistance, credit
scores may be a valid mortality-risk indicator.
Health habits and socioeconomic status are correlated.
Better-educated people generally make better health-related
decisions, and wealthier people can afford better health care,
People self-select life insurance based
on financial responsibility and risk-management attitude. The acts of buying and
renewing insurance and the size of the
policy are indicators of financial responsibility and a preference for
minimizing risk. The bigger the
policy and the longer it has been
held, the stronger the indication.
refers to how well
we are connected to
people who provide
us emotional and
Marriage is the obvious one. But playing
bingo on Wednesday evenings also
qualifies. The literature is clear:
Social connectedness in all forms is
positively associated with health status, health outcomes, and longevity. The widely reported “marriage effect”
is particularly strong for men.
What isn’t clear is the cause and effect. Does emotional and
physical health lead to better social connectedness, or does social connectedness lead to better emotional and physical health?
There’s evidence that points in both directions. But to some
extent, it doesn’t matter. If social connectedness is associated
with mortality, then, regulation permitting, it has underwriting
value. Social connectedness is well established, for instance, as
People who are more responsible with their health also tend to be more responsible with their financial management. therefore, in spite of public and regulatory resistance, credit scores may be a valid mortality-risk indicator.
Lifestyle and adherence refers
to the numerous small decisions we all make
every day that
over the long
and longevity. This includes
decisions related to
exercise, diet, smoking, alcohol, driving
adherence to medical
advice, and much more. Collectively, these decisions are called health habits.
When public health practitioners and sociologists
look at these health habits, they find that health-habit
distribution is bimodal: People tend to have generally good health habits or generally poor health habits.
Health habits are correlated with risk attitudes. More
risk-averse people have better health habits.
Healthy habits are definitely causal factors for health
and longevity. Current underwriting tends to pick up
only a few of these habits and then often only the more