Guest Post – The 2023 Update for Military Physicians’ Disability Insurance
The Holidays and 2022 are over and we are entering the time of year to take care of financial matters. For military physicians that means protecting their most important asset, the ability to practice their chosen specialty. The military does not provide disability insurance for active-duty physicians, only disability ratings that determine benefits for conditions that will make the physician unfit for duty and fulfill their military responsibilities, not their specific ability to practice their chosen medical specialty. Government benefits are determined by base pay only and do not include allowances, special or bonus pay. Adding in any civilian/moonlighting income increases this income protection gap. Fortunately for the astute military physician, there is a viable solution on the marketplace, an individual disability insurance policy. However, this may not be as easy to obtain as it appears.
When to establish coverage:
To qualify for coverage most insurance companies exclude active-duty physicians, individuals who have call-up orders, physicians who have received overseas deployment orders, physicians currently deployed outside the USA, medical
residents and fellows within six months of graduation from a civilian program who have a military pay back obligation, medical residents in a military residency or hospital, and medical students who have been accepted into a military residency or hospital program. In addition to these restrictions an individual needs to qualify medically. Even if you have the foresight to establish coverage prior to any of the restrictions mentioned there is a strong possibility that your policy will be suspended while you are on active duty and will provide no benefits in the event of disability during that time.
Fortunately, there are two insurance companies that will provide personal disability insurance for active-duty physicians, MassMutual and Lloyd’s. The MassMutual policy is the same as offered to non-active-duty physicians and is non- cancellable and guaranteed renewable which means the policy can never be cancelled by the insurance company except for premium non-payment, policy contractual provisions cannot be altered, nor can exclusions be added after the policy is in effect. Premiums are also guaranteed level/fixed to age 65. The policy will pay benefits if you are either totally or partially disabled in your medical specialty for the entire benefit period. In addition, you may increase the policy benefit while on active duty at regular intervals, and the policy can be continued after your military obligation is over. Significant premium discounts are also available and remain on the policy even after you leave the military. To establish coverage, you must qualify medically and have not received notice of overseas deployment or be currently stationed outside the USA. In most instances, an exam is not required but you will have your medical history reviewed.
The Lloyd’s policy has many of the same provisions, but the maximum time you can receive benefits is five years, and you must requalify medically every three to five years. However, you can still establish coverage even if you have received notice of deployment which provides a stopgap option until you return to the USA. Medical underwriting tends to be more lenient so many times this may be the only option if there are pre-existing health issues.
Your time is valuable, and it is critical that you have a specialized insurance agent guide you through the process and make recommendations based on expertise and experience. Feel free to contact us, we are here to help.
As always, thank you for your service.
Andy Borgia & DK Unger
DI 4 MDS
858-523-7518 / firstname.lastname@example.org