Should You Pay Less for Healthcare Than That Guy Over There?

Category: Health

We recently conducted our 15th annual Attitudes in the American Workplace survey, with Zogby Analytics doing the polling.  With healthcare reform so much in the news lately, we thought it would be interesting to find out what the average employee thought of the current system.

One of the questions we asked was, “Would it be OK with you personally if your company charged more in individual health insurance premiums for people with unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking or overeating?” 41% said yes and 54% said no (5% were unsure).  The fact that 41% agreed was pretty amazing, given that almost 70% of Americans are overweight and almost 20% smoke

This means that despite being overweight and/or smoking, many employees are in favor of paying higher healthcare costs anyway.  Maybe they figure that this would cause them to live a healthier lifestyle.  What it tells me is that most people want to get what they pay for, and don’t like having to pay for others’ bad habits or less-than-healthy lifestyles.  When you think about it, this is how other types of insurance work; our rates for automobile and homeowner’s insurance are based on the type of car or house we own, along with our claim history.  It would be silly – and unfair – for everyone to pay the same rates for either type of insurance coverage.  But that’s how healthcare insurance currently works in most companies.

The soon-to-be-enacted Affordable Care Act does not allow insurers to charge higher premiums to overweight customers but it does to smokers (up to 50% more!).  This should help smokers quit, but unfortunately won’t provide incentive for those who are overweight.  That’s too bad and may cause resentment by those people at the salad bar who are looking at the overweight guy at the next table having a cheeseburger and fries. 



Frank Kenna III
September 23, 2013

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