More Americans See Hiking Health Costs for Unhealthy as Fair

August 2, 2006 ( - A majority of adults in the US say hiking the insurance premiums for those with unhealthy lifestyles is fair, according to a survey conducted for the Wall Street Journal.

According to, 53% of adults in the US think it is fair to raise the premiums, up from 37% who thought the same thing in 2003. Thirty-two percent of respondents to the survey said it was unfair, down from 46% in 2003.

This shift parallels the number of respondents who think people leading unhealthy lifestyles should pay higher copays and deductibles than those leading healthy lifestyles, up from 26% in 2003, according to Thirty percent said it was unfair, down from 47% in 2003.

Thirty-five percent of respondents agreed and 35% disagreed with the statement that “it is unfair to require the majority of people who are healthy to pay for most of the cost of treating those who are sick and are heavy users of hospitals and doctors.”

Harris Interactive conducted the online survey for Wall Street Journal Online between July 11 and July 13. The survey included 2,325 adults.

The survey echoes a recent trend of employers keeping a closer watch on the health choices of their employees.

Programs have also started to reward employees for healthier living, such as a recent one launched in Michigan. Under the plan, employees can be rewarded for living a healthier lifestyle with reduced copays ( Michigan Firms Gets Health Coverage Break for Worker Lifestyle Changes). The Michigan plan also requires employers offer a smoke-free environment, promote physical activity and offer healthy choices in workplace vending machines.

Some of the changes employers are adopting include a greater focus on health management to control health care costs (See More Employers Adopting Sweeping Health Management Programs ). A recent survey by Hewitt Associates says 76% of employers are offering health screening and some employers are offering education and training programs on leading a healthy lifestyle (See Employers Turn To Health Promotion Programs ).