Dr. Lisa has dreamed of becoming an OBGYN since she was four when her mother was pregnant with her baby brother. She planned her course diligently and did what most medical career aspirants do; she sacrificed, worked hard, invested, borrowed and planned for what she expected – a lifetime of fulfillment. What Lisa failed to do, not unlike most medical students, is to prepare for the unexpected. She never did not obtain critical income protection with a disability insurance for physicians policy.
Two years into medical school she suffered a serious head injury in a bicycle accident. The trauma to her brain resulted in a disruption of her motor skills which affected her hand-eye coordination. There is a chance she may regain her motor skills, but, for now, her medical career remains out of reach.
Many young adults believe in their invincibility, and very few are inclined to consider the contingencies of life. But, even if they did understand the risk of a disability, college-aged adults can do little to protect their future income because they couldn’t qualify for disability income protection. However, as a medical student, Lisa had a rare opportunity not afforded other college students. She could have purchased a disability insurance policy for physicians, designed for medical students, and, in doing so, she still may not have been able to fulfill her dream. She would have been assured an income stream that could help pay her debt and living expenses.
In 2007, all accredited medical colleges were urged to take the initiative to promote and educate students on the benefits, value and importance of a disability insurance policy for physicians, designed specifically for medical students. Medical students are are now being educated on the risks of disability and the ways in which they can protect themselves. In essence, they are being taught to prepare for the unexpected.
According to the disability statistics, the unexpected is really not that unexpected. In 2011, 1 in 9 people between the ages of 21 and 65 will suffer a disability due to an illness or injury, and the chances increase as you age with 1 in 7 suffering a disability between the ages of 35 and 65*.
With some medical students carrying as much as $300,000 of student loan debt – undergraduate and medical school combined – they have a much higher level of exposure than other students. Should Lisa be unable to pursue her medical career, she will be saddled with a level of student debt that only a high income earner could afford to pay. Even if she is able to continue, the additional costs she will incur along with the delay in getting through residency will put her in a much deeper hole than she would otherwise be.
Medical students who are serious about their dreams and who truly understand what is at stake, must take the essential steps to protect their investment and secure their future by preparing for the unexpected. Buying an individual policy that is specifically designed to provide the greatest level of disability insurance for physicians, when it is available and inexpensive affords medical students a huge advantage most college students will never have. It will lock in protection of their most valuable asset – their ability to earn an income, and it will follow them wherever they go.
Though the views expressed above are solely the writer’s, Guthrie supports “The Dose with Dr. Goodhook” and is partnering with Adventures in Medicine to create an open, inspiring and insightful community for residents and physicians. Click here to learn more about ways that Guthrie is making practice purposeful.
About the Author: OmniMed Financial & Insurance works with physicians in all 50 states to plan for a secure future. Common topics that physicians approach us about include own occupation disability insurance (with specialty wording), life insurance, college savings planning strategies, and other financial planning topics. We also assist physicians with startup or existing practices to implement professional liability (medical malpractice), health insurance programs, retirement plans, and other financial strategies. Joe Capone is the owner and founder of OmniMed and Rick Warren is a Partner. Visit us at omnimedfinancial.com to learn more.