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Obesity can cost you 22% more in monthly health insurance premiums

By on January 15th, 2013
Filed: Consumers, Facts, Health Insurance, You

Should overweight people pay more for health insurance?

We all know that obesity can be detrimental to your health, but how much does your weight affect your health insurance costs?

If recent news stories are to be believed, being a little overweight may actually help you live longer. However, this doesn’t mean that being obese is good for your health, or that health insurance companies will consider you less of an underwriting risk if you’ve added a few more pounds than you should.

At eHealth, we recently released a report detailing the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and premiums paid for individually-purchased health insurance policies. Calculations are made based on the BMI categories used by the federal Centers for Disease Control (Underweight, Normal, Overweight, and Obese).

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • Overall, consumers in the ‘obese’ BMI category pay an average monthly premium 22% higher than those in the ‘normal’ BMI category ($169 compared to $207)
  • Men who are obese pay health insurance premiums that are 29% higher ($190) than those paid by men with a BMI in the normal range ($147)
  • Women who are obese pay health insurance premiums that are 24% higher ($231) than those paid by women with a normal-range BMI ($186)
  • Men are penalized for being underweight: the average monthly premium paid by men in the ‘underweight’ BMI category ($160) is 9% higher than those for men with a normal BMI ($147)
  • Every pound counts: even moving up one BMI category (from ‘normal’ to ‘overweight’) may cost you when it comes to health insurance premiums

In the report, comparisons of average premium costs relative to an applicant’s BMI are derived from a sample of more than 224,000 individual major medical policies purchased through eHealthInsurance with coverage in effect as of February 2012. Results are based only on adults aged 20 or older who provided their height and weight on the health insurance application.

To learn more about the relationship between BMI and health insurance premiums, or to review our methodology, read the full report.

Image by Flickr user puuikibeach


About Carrie McLean

Carrie McLean has been in the health insurance field for 7 years and is licensed in all 50 states. She is often seen in the media discussing health insurance trends and issues from an insider’s perspective and as a consumer advocate, having personally helped thousands of individuals and families search for and find affordable health insurance.

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