The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) said that schools should require disability insurance for all medical students and provide access to policies. Usually, medical students are particularly vulnerable to the financial hardships that may result from a disability. Students are protected by disability insurance from possible fiscal disaster and is also a prudent investment. Buying a policy while still in medical school presents tremendous advantages that can save students money after graduation, while protecting their financial future and providing the peace of mind necessary to focus on the demands of a career in medicine.
Many medical students do not generate income while in school, but instead accumulate debt at staggering rates. In 2005, medical school graduates who took out loans started their residencies with an average debt of $100,000, a figure that does not include undergraduate debt. And only the expected future income from a career in medicine makes such exorbitant debt palatable; however, a student that suffers a disability may never realize that income. 1994 Statistical Abstract of the United States states that in the course of a year, 1 in 10 people between the ages of 25 and 64 will suffer a disability. If comparing that ratio to the odds of being victim of a house fire (1 in 122); injured in an automobile accident (1 in 160); or even of death (1 in 117), the value and protection offered by disability insurance is clear.
Those students who suffer a disability and are unable to complete their education will be saddled with student loan debt and may not be able to work in any field depending on the disability and its severity. Medical expenses combined with repayment of student loans and lack of income due to disability can destroy a financial future. Even a person who is able to continue medical school could face the burden of simultaneously repaying loans and paying tuition.
Except from the obvious advantages disability insurance offers by minimizing the risk riding behind a medical student’s debt, there are other long-term advantages to purchasing a policy as a student instead of as a physician. A student buying a policy will likely get a lower rate than a physician. Three factors determine disability insurance rates: age at the time of purchase, occupation, and health status. All these factors tend to favor a student. Not only are students younger, but generally the health status of younger people is better than that of older people. Buying insurance at a younger age may also protect the policyholder from the difficulties of securing a policy later in life when other health issues may affect insurability.