OHSU Guaranteed Standard Issue Disability Insurance

Justin Berry |

This article was originally written in March of 2019

A New Program at OHSU

For many people I talk to, risk management is one of the more boring topics of personal finance, but it is also one of the most important. Planning for all the things that can go right in your life is a luxury you have only after you have protected against the catastrophic things that can go wrong. Risks that are relatively small in consequence should usually be self-insured with your short-term savings and you should not pay an insurance company to cover the risk for you. However, there are a few life-altering risks that often require us to find a cost-efficient solution from an insurance company.

One of the main risks I discuss with clients is what would happen to their financial well-being if they were unable to work due to an illness or an injury. Most of the people I meet with have a large, seven digit earning potential in front of them during their late 20s or 30s. That future ability to work should be viewed as an asset and protected as such. However, the problem with trying to protect that asset with a private long-term disability insurance policy is insurance companies often refuse to offer insurance (or do so with modifications) to applicants who have certain preexisting medical conditions, poor driving history, dangerous hobbies, plans to live internationally, or high risk family medical history.

Occasionally over the years my clients would come across a program usually referred to as Guaranteed Standard Issue (GSI) Disability Insurance. These programs are usually specific to an employer, but the policy is privately owned by the client and not a part of the temporary group benefits package, so they can take it with them if they leave the employer. After approximately six years of working to get a program like this in Oregon, I am happy to announce that as of February 2019 all residents and fellows at Oregon Health & Science University now have access to this opportunity. The new program will drastically change the strategy many residents and fellows use when evaluating their long-term disability insurance options.

The primary benefits of this program are:

  • You are not required to disclose your prescription history or your mental health treatment history
  • You only need to answer four simple questions about your medical history rather than complete the usual full medical history questionnaire
  • They do not require you to complete an in-person medical exam
  • No questions or policy exclusions about hobbies such as rock climbing, SCUBA, piloting, traveling to certain countries, etc.
  • The monthly cost is discounted from normal rates
  • You have the guaranteed right to increase the size of the policy when you graduate from training
  • The policy is contractually guaranteed, so the insurance company cannot change features or cancel your policy
  • The policy is privately owned (not a group policy) and it is fully portable, so it goes with you after you finish training 

This new program provides a huge benefit for OHSU residents and fellows. One note of caution. If you apply for a disability insurance policy that requires health/lifestyle screening and you are declined or you do not receive the best health rating, that decision can prevent you from being able to qualify for a policy through this new GSI program. You should thoroughly understand all of your options, including this new GSI policy, before applying with any company. Please contact me at Justin.Berry@northstarfinancial.com if you want to learn more about whether this program is a good fit for you.