Smokers, Overweight and Underweight Pay Higher Premiums

This is from a study by eHealth:

  • Smokers pay an average monthly premium of $207, 14% higher than the average monthly premium paid by non-smokers ($181)
  • The average monthly premium paid by women smokers ($240) is 23% higher than the average premium paid by non-smoking women ($195)
  • Policyholders in the ‘Obese’ BMI category pay an average monthly premium 22.6% higher than those in the ‘Normal’ BMI category ($164 compared to $201)
  • The average monthly premium paid by men in the ‘Obese’ category ($187) is 30.8% higher than the average premium paid by men in the ‘Normal’ category ($143)
  • The average monthly premium paid by men in the ‘Underweight’ BMI category ($157) is 9.8% higher than those for men in the ‘Normal’ category ($143)

Stone Hearth coverage.


Comments (9)

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  1. Ken says:

    What’s wrong with charging people more for unhealthy behavior?

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    If we are to discourage bad behavior and not force people who practice good health habits to subsidize other people’s bad habits, charging more for poor habits is a must.

  3. Brian says:

    What we must keep in mind is that there is some degree of subjectivity on what constitutes bad bevhaviors. Smoking is a bad idea for most people, as are certain other behaviors. But there is a percentage of the population that is not harmed by certain behaviors that are harmful to the vast majority of people.

    I feel as though insurance companies should not abuse their right to charge higher premiums to certain people with risks, regardless of what the numbers say. There is some degree to be flexibile on this.

  4. Vicki says:

    Interesting. Probably it’s fair.

  5. Davie says:

    I think higher fees for these items are common sense, as they’re within the user’s control. Smoking enacts health costs, as does obesity. Those costs, to the extent possible, should be born by the individual pursuing the behavior. Adding an additional financial disincentive to unhealthy behavior is simply sound policy.

    Whether insurance providers should be able to raise rates for an unavoidable injury or disease is a different subject entirely because the user doesn’t exert the same degree of control that goes into smoking and weight.

  6. Linda Gorman says:

    Commercial insurers care about things that have been shown to increase the expected cost of insuring someone. They’re most interested in “more expensive” than in good, bad, or whatever. Politically controlled health systems, on the other hand, care a lot about the good and bad that are in fashion and not a whole lot about actual costs.

    Note that these are individual policies purchased through eHealthInsurance. The average age is something like 37. The policy differences will be lower for younger people because health effects don’t materialize immediately, and much higher as people enter the high stroke/heart attack morbidity years.

    Also, the methodology section warns that to the extent that obesity and smoking are correlated with other health conditions, the premium may reflect those (unknown to eHealthInsurance) conditions. Finally, height and weight are from self-reported insurance application data.

  7. Brian says:

    It would be interesting to know if prescribed medical marijuana smokers in places like California and Colorado are being asked by insurance companies if they smoke medical marijuana. How much would that affect their premium?
    If they are not being asked this question now (I don’t know), they very well may be in the near future.

  8. Buck Jordan says:

    A slippery slope – what’s next asking what age your parents lived too, or are there genetic diseases in your family, do you drink alcohol, etc

  9. June Bledose says:

    ANYTIME you give up your freedom of choice is NOT a good thing,,, we’re not far off from being a country like Russia or Cuba — keep agreeing with all the restrictions Obama is putting in place and keep on losing more of your freedom,,,, um, um, by the way Barack HUSSEIN Obama has some waterfront property for sale in Arizona,,,, anybody interested???