Workers back higher insurance premiums for unhealthy colleagues

Category: Health

10 Research Parkway   Wallingford, CT 06492   Tel: 203-294-9800

FOR RELEASE after 12 a.m., Monday, Aug. 12, 2013

Contacts: Frank Kenna, Marlin (203-640-0458 or
Jude Carter, Marlin (203-858-2916 or

Attitudes in the American Workplace XV
Polling for Marlin by Zogby Analytics®

Workers back higher insurance premiums for unhealthy colleagues

Do you smoke? Got a big spare tire around the waist? Are you ignoring high blood pressure or a cholesterol problem?

If you have unhealthy habits – such as smoking, drinking or overeating – a significant percentage of American workers, 41%, say it would be OK with them if your company charges you more in individual health insurance premiums.

The findings, in a new national telephone poll done by Zogby Analytics for Marlin, a Wallingford, CT, employee communications company, come as companies begin to offer employee incentives for good health and even institute penalties or charge higher premiums for those with such conditions as high blood pressure and obesity. The telephone poll of 751 American workers, conducted in June and July 2013, had a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points.

“Considering that 69% of Americans are overweight and 19% smoke, having 41% agree with charging higher premiums shows that they like the incentive-based system,” said Frank Kenna III, President of Marlin, which has conducted 15 national “Attitudes in the American Workplace” polls since 1995. “After all, we know that if we get in an accident, our car insurance rates will go up.  Why shouldn’t the same principle apply to healthcare premiums? And an added bonus may be that workers with unhealthy habits could very well find the motivation to take much better care of themselves.”

The poll also showed that while 80 percent of workers said they believe their company cares if they are healthy, 29 percent said their company does not take the initiative to educate their employees about health and wellness. And 19% said that they or their family were holding off going to the doctor to treat aches or pains or other illness because of the cost.
Among other findings:
• Twenty-seven (27) percent said they would consider leaving their job if another employer offered equal or lower pay but better health benefits, especially those who are single and young. These included 52% of those who are single, 18% of married people and 16% of those who are divorced, widowed or separated. Also among them were 57% of those who are 18 to 24 years old, 19% of those 30 to 49, 21% of those 50 to 64, and 16% of those 65 and older.

• Those who said they are holding off going to the doctor to treat aches or pains or other illnesses because of the cost included 16% of those with medical benefits and 27% of those without.

• People who work for mid-sized companies (101 to 1,000 employees) were most likely to say that it would be OK with them if their company charged more in individual health premiums for workers with unhealthy habits – 49%. This compared with 40% of those who work in companies with 1 to 100 employees and 34% of those in companies with more than 1,000 employees.

• Results among those who said their company takes the initiative to educate employees about health and wellness rises by company size: 62% of those who work for companies with 1 to 100 employees, 82 percent of those with 101 to 1,000 employees, and 88% of those with more than 1,000 employees say they have such programs.

• 72 percent of respondents said that they were covered by medical benefits at work; 27 percent said that they were not.

About Marlin

Marlin, a workplace communications company, helps managers reach employees wherever they work, using the latest SaaS-based technology solutions, including flat screens and mobile devices. Designed specifically for the workplace, Marlin’s patented digital signage products are known for their ease of use, robust content options and flexibility. For 100 years Marlin has developed and delivered visual communication programs that engage, inform and motivate employees. Learn more about Marlin’s digital signage products and services at

About this Survey
This survey was done for Marlin, a Wallingford, CT workplace communications company, by Zogby Analytics, based on 751 interviews among a nationally representative sample of full- and part-time US workers. The margin of error is +/-3.7 percentage points. Zogby Analytics conducted live operator telephone interviews in June and July of 2013.

Jude Carter
August 15, 2013

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