Medical Underwriter Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a medical underwriter. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Risk Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Medical Underwriter?

Medical underwriters, also known as health insurance underwriters, review insurance applications in order to determine whether to insure a person or group and under what terms. To do so, they calculate the risks associated with insuring the applicant and figure out the premium amount and extent of coverage to offer. When making a determination about a health insurance applicant, they must consider the risks to the company, as well as the government regulations surrounding health insurance policy provision.

The following table explains some of the job skills and education requirements for this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Accounting
Business management
Certification Option American College of Financial Services Registered Health Underwriter designation
Key Skills Detail oriented, computer savvy, critical thinking skills
Job Growth (2014-2024) -11% (for all insurance underwriters)*
Average Salary (2015) $72,650 (for all insurance underwriters)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Medical Underwriter Do?

As a medical underwriter, you would evaluate the applications of people applying for health insurance. You would most likely work for an insurance company, agency or brokerage. It would be your job to determine whether to provide insurance to an applicant.

What Does the Job Involve?

Underwriters often use software programs that calculate risk and come up with recommendations for providing insurance. They then evaluate the recommendation using set criteria and ultimately decide whether to accept or reject an applicant. You might ask the applicant for information concerning his or her health and/or credit history. Laws surrounding health insurance coverage and premiums differ from one state to the next, and some states have outlawed medical underwriting.

How Do I Prepare for this Career?

Most employers require a bachelor's degree and/or a background in insurance to work in medical underwriting. Specific skills are usually learned through on-the-job training, so many hiring managers look for individuals who already have strong computer and critical-thinking skills. College-level courses in business management, finance, accounting and business law are also helpful.

Although it's not mandatory, you may choose to become a Registered Health Underwriter. This certification is conferred by the American College of Financial Services and attests to your knowledge of health insurance benefits and laws pertaining to individuals, families and groups. You can take courses online through the organization, or you can read its literature at your own pace. You'll receive certification after successfully completing all coursework.

What Are the Salary and Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), insurance underwriters of all types were expected to see an eleven percent decrease in employment from 2014-2024. Automated computer processing of insurance applications, making underwriters less needed, is the most likely contributor to the decline. According to the BLS, in May 2015, insurance underwriters earned a base salary ranging from $38,960-$116,600.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Underwriter jobs are available at many different kinds of insurance companies, not just health insurers. For instance, they may specialize in underwriting car insurance. In this job, when determining premiums and coverage, they factor in details such as the applicant's driving history, age and gender. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a bachelor's degree. Another insurance industry job to consider is a position as an insurance agent. They contact potential applicants on behalf of insurance companies and explain different policies in order to try to make a sale. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a high school diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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