Poll: Obese, Smokers Should Pay More for Health Coverage

November 16, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A large number of Americans responding to a recent poll said smokers should have to fork over more for their health coverage while other respondents said those overweight should do the same.

According to a Reuters news report, t he poll of about 1,500 people found that six in 10 backed charging smokers higher premiums while 30% felt the obese should also pay more.

“When it comes to personal responsibility, consumers increasingly support making people pay more for unhealthy behavior,” said the report in the journal Health Affairs.

About one in five large employers are already giving discounts to workers who do not smoke, according to Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, which lobbies for corporations on health issues, according to Reuters. “The nonsmoker’s discount is growing in popularity and I think it is going to grow faster.”

As to imposing higher fees on the obese, Darling asserted: “I think it will be a while before we get to the point where people begin tying a financial discount to something like BMI (body mass index).”

Meanwhile, two-thirds said government should move toward universal health insurance, but 55% said the government’s role should be limited to help the poor, unemployed and those otherwise unable to buy it, according to the poll. About 52% of those polled supported mandatory insurance, while 48% said it should be left the individual to decide.

Also, in the poll, about 80% believe the US health insurance system needs fixing with its 46.6 million uninsured.

The poll of 1,517 people was conducted in July 2006.