Research shows insured obese individuals pay much higher monthly premiums

Health InsuranceA report by eHealth, Inc., eHealthInsurance’s parent company, has been released as a supplement to its previous “Cost and Benefits” report from November 2011, and examines the influence that a policyholder’s body mass index (BMI) and smoking habits have on the premiums that he or she pays for individual health insurance every month.

According to the research:

• Obese policyholders pay an average premium every month that is 22.6 percent higher ($240) than individuals whose BMI is considered to be “Normal” ($143).

• The average monthly health insurance premium paid by male policyholders who are obese ($187) is higher than that of men with a “Normal” BMI ($143) by 30.8 percent.

• Comparatively, men who have a BMI that is “Underweight” pay a monthly premium of $157, which is 9.8 percent higher than the “Normal” premium of $143.

• Smokers face premiums that are 14 percent higher ($207) than the average nonsmoker’s premiums ($181).

• Female smokers pay an average monthly health insurance premium of $240, which is 23 percent higher than the average premium of $195 that is paid by non-smoking female policyholders.

According to Gary Lauer, the chief executive officer of eHealth, the company has been aware of the fact that obesity and smoking can influence a person’s longevity and overall health. What they have now learned, however, is that the actual financial impact of these factors can be measured and represented by a dollar amount with regards to the higher premiums paid by obese individuals and smokers in the individual market.