Obese People and Smokers Pay More for Health Insurance

December 21st, 2011
Obese People and Smokers Pay More for Health Insurance

It is generally accepted that lifestyle can have a direct impact on both your health and how long you are likely to live.

It is also generally believed that people with unhealthy lifestyles are likely to be punished financially as well, although until now though it wasn’t clear by how much. However, recent research in the USA has shown the cost of premiums being paid by obese people for health insurance is a staggering 22.6% per more than so called healthy people.

One other interesting statistic relates to men who are underweight. They pay almost 10% more upon their health and fitness than those who are considered a normal healthy weight for their age and build. So it appears that being underweight, according to insurance companies, is nearly as bad (health wise) as those who are overweight.

If you smoke then you are likely to pay around 14% more than non-smokers. Women who smoke pay nearly double more than men at about 23%.

Speaking with reporters, Chief Executive Office Gary Lauer of eHealth who released the data said: “We’ve known for a long time that smoking and obesity can have an impact on overall health and longevity.”

Mr. Lauer added: “Now, thanks to the data eHealth is releasing, we can put a dollar figure on what it costs Americans today in terms of higher health insurance premiums in the individual market. We feel that this data can provide further incentive to any individual trying to tackle these important health issues.”

The statistics come from a report published by eHealth entitled ‘Smoking Status and Body Mass Index Relative to Average Individual Health Insurance Premiums.’ It was published last month and is available online along with a larger tome called ‘Costs and Benefits of Individual and Family Health Insurance Plans’.

Health insurance costs worldwide have been rocketing for a number of years now. As such, insurance companies are looking more at how those whose risk is higher can perhaps be forced to change their lifestyle in order to reduce the price they pay.

Targeting smokers and obese people in particular has been criticised, but the reality is that while smoking is a problem gradually being eliminated in countries like the US and UK, obesity is fast becoming a greater problem.

While those who are obese may complain they are being unfairly targeted, the fact is this particular group costs more in treatment.

The debate will no doubt continue.

 

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