2018 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™

The 2018 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) has been released and workforce drug positivity remained at the highest rate we’ve seen in a decade. The positivity rate held steady at 4.2 percent which was the same in 2016. One of the biggest shifts in drug positivity was seen in the cocaine and amphetamine classes. Positivity rates for each of these drugs skyrocketed in some areas of the country. The overall positivity for cocaine increased seven percent from 2016. As these positivity rates rise, what is the prevalence of life insurance drug abuse positivity rates?

An increase in drug positivity also prevalent in life insurance population

Our data analytic experts have done their own analysis on life insurance drug abuse positivity and they aren’t far off from the workforce positivity rates. Cocaine, which had a 0.30 positivity rate among the American workforce in 2017, had a 0.18 positivity rate within the life insurance population. Further, amphetamines which had a 1.10 positivity rate in the workforce similarly showed a 1.02 positivity rate in the life insurance subset.

Additionally, as we see marijuana being legalized in more and more states, positivity rates are rising. Marijuana positivity for the workforce was 2.10, but in life insurance it nearly doubled to 4.10.

life insurance drug abuse positivity

Understanding the prevalence of drug positivity among the American workforce should be an eye opener for insurers. This epidemic is affecting people of all walks of life, including those who work, who have families and who apply for life insurance. Take a look at this interactive map to see where some of the highest overall drug positivity is, as well as by individual drug class.

Misuse of these drugs can cause premature death and can cost insurance companies a significant amount of money, if it goes undetected during the underwriting process. If you would like to learn more about adding a drug panel to your laboratory requirements, please contact your Strategic Account Executive, or call us at 913.859.6992.

At the recent Association of Home Office Underwriters (AHOU) meeting, Executive Vice President, Betsy Sears, shared insight that our data analytics team has collected and analyzed comparing self-disclosure to positive confirmations of various laboratory tests. Our insurance clients tell us consistently that fraud is a top concern – whether intentional or unintentional applicant nondisclosure, it can cost companies millions.

Since not everyone could join us at AHOU, we wanted to share a few highlights from Betsy’s presentation. Here are 3 stats that our recent study uncovered about the life insurance population.

  1. Five percent of applicants understate their weight by more than 25 pounds. It’s been known individuals sometimes may stretch the truth on their driver’s license when it comes to updating their weight number. Some believe they still weigh the same as they did at age 16 when they first completed the “weight” box at their local DMV. When it comes to applying for life insurance, are these people a little more truthful? The answer is not entirely. We recently studied the results of more than 40,000 applicants. An astounding 20.7% of individuals whose BMI was more than 30, stated a normal build class (BMI under 30) during the application.
  2. Tobacco nondisclosure involves knowingly omitting this information. Above I stated that there is intentional and unintentional nondisclosure. When it comes to tobacco, it’s a fairly safe assumption to say an individual knows if he or she smokes. It’s a term commonly referred to as “smoker’s amnesia” when a person conveniently forgets about his or her smoking use. In our study, 23% of individuals who tested positive for cotinine, denied tobacco use at the time of the application. If an individual knows an exam will not be completed, their tobacco use will not be confirmed. This allows them to receive the same rates as a non-smoker while carrying roughly twice the mortality risk.

Present value of premium savings from avoiding a smoker classification in 20-year term policies:
20 year-old female, $100,000 face amount: $180
60 year-old male, $1 million face amount: $50,000 

  1. New hepatitis C (Hep C) infections have nearly tripled since 2010. According to Quest Diagnostics, Hep C is a silent disease because symptoms can take decades to develop. More than 3 million people in the United States have a chronic Hep C virus infection but are not aware because they do not look or feel sick. Our team discovered 77% of applicants who tested positive for Hep C did not disclose during the application. It is possible many of these individuals did not know of their existing condition prior to receiving their laboratory results.

Final thoughts

Each of the above conditions can contribute to other health-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer – all of which can have serious mortality implications. We invite you to join us for our upcoming webinar where Betsy Sears will reveal more hidden truths that are omitted from the life insurance application and how you can protect your bottom line.

Deaths of Despair: As premature deaths rise, insurers may want to evaluate their pricing strategy

May 15, 2018 Carriers

“Deaths of Despair,” an article recently appearing in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), should have red flags flying throughout the underwriting community. As reported in the Journal, among individuals 20-55 years of age “substance abuse, suicides, and diabetes drove a rise in premature deaths in nearly half of the U.S.” The WSJ data, originally published […]

Read the full article →

2017 Applicant Survey Results: Making life insurance exams easier for applicants

April 17, 2018 #Committed2 You

  At ExamOne we are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of our services and give your applicants a happier exam experience. One invaluable way for us to identify customer expectations, measure satisfaction levels, and uncover specific areas for improvement to the life insurance exam experience is through survey responses received from your […]

Read the full article →

Thanks for the memories

January 11, 2018 Carriers

There’s something about turning over the calendar page that makes us want to reflect. As we look ahead to an exciting 2018, it’s also a great time to look back on the journey we’ve taken with you — our clients — last year. Watch a special “Thank You” to our partners who are dedicated to […]

Read the full article →

Three ways we put people first during the exam

January 2, 2018 Carriers

ExamOne is committed to developing solutions that not only assist our clients and partners in meeting their business goals, but also enable individuals to become better informed about their health and empower them to lead the lives they want to live. That’s why we take great care in fine-tuning our exam experience so it is […]

Read the full article →

Holiday shopping for life insurance? The purchasing habits for 3 generations of consumers

December 21, 2017 Applicants

More than 174 million Americans purchased gifts between Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year — and millions more will before the end of the year. Shopping has become synonymous with the holidays for consumers of all ages. From older buyers being loyal to their favorite brands, to younger people doing extensive research online, seasonal […]

Read the full article →

Give the gift of life insurance this holiday season

December 7, 2017 Carriers

From Hatchimals to drones to the iPhone X, these are some of the hottest items appearing on holiday lists this year. However, how long until these items break or are replaced by a newer, cooler item? This season, consider wrapping up a gift that doesn’t go out of style – life insurance. It may not […]

Read the full article →

7 facts to know about opioid use

December 1, 2017 Carriers

Earlier this year we announced an expanded opioid panel for life insurers. This comes at a time where the American workforce is showing the highest positivity rate for illicit drugs in the past 12 years. This epidemic affects people of all ages, race, gender, incomes and educational backgrounds. These are the same individuals who could […]

Read the full article →

Are you seeing these 6 trends changing the life insurance risk landscape?

November 30, 2017 Carriers

Over the past decade there have been significant changes to the health risks Americans are facing. While the causes and potential solutions to these health issues are being debated, the rising number of Americans living with diabetes, hepatitis C and the consequences of the opioid epidemic continue to impact our country. We also hear too […]

Read the full article →