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  • What is the impact of obesity on health insurance premium

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    Obesity is on the rise all over the world. According to a WHO report, about 39% of adults across the world suffer from obesity. This situation is evident even in India as the number of obesity cases have increased significantly across the country in the recent years. With the drastic rise in obesity, there is also a rise in the number of obesity related diseases. The increasing cost of healthcare has made insurers become wary of providing coverage for people with obesity.

    Though most insurers in the country will not deny insurance to a person citing obesity as a reason, the cost of insurance could be a lot higher. Since obesity could have serious implications on a person’s physical well-being, insurers might ask for applicants to have a medical examination to assess the risk. The insurance premium for these applicants will be established based on their existing conditions as well as their BMI measure.

    How is it measured?

    The most common measure of obesity by insurers is body mass index (BMI). Most of the insurers in the market use this measure to determine if a person is suffering from obesity. BMI provides an index based on the ratio of a person’s weight to his/her height. If the BMI measure is over 25, it is considered to be overweight. A person with BMI measure over 30 is considered to be obese. It is also a general presumption that people with extremely high BMI are prone to various illnesses.

    Common health disorders attributed to obesity

    Obesity is a result of various factors like sedentary lifestyle, hormonal imbalance, genetic conditions, etc. In the recent years, sedentary lifestyle is considered to be the main culprit when it comes to obesity. In other words, people who eat a lot of junk food and do not perform enough physical activities tend to suffer from obesity. As noted earlier, obesity is believed to be the cause of various illnesses. Some of the common illnesses attributed to obesity include the following:

    • Diabetes: This is the most common condition directly attributed to obesity. Obesity causes fluctuation in a person’s glucose levels, and this affects the production of insulin to regulate the glucose levels.
    • Blood pressure: This is another major condition directly attributed to obesity. When there is too much fat tissue in the body, the blood vessels must work overtime to circulate oxygen and nutrients to these tissues. Additional strain on arteries and blood vessels will result in hypertension.
    • Heart ailments: Cardiac issues and obesity go hand in hand. The significant increase in body fat will result in fat settling down on arteries. This will narrow down arteries and affect blood flow to various parts of the body. More strain on the arteries and lack of blood will might lead to cardiac arrest.
    • Stroke: Stroke is often a result of high cholesterol and blood pressure. Obesity increases the risk of stroke as it puts additional strain on the blood vessels. High strain on the blood vessels sometimes lead to blockage and result in stroke.
    • Joint problems: People who carry extra weight in their body often suffer from joint problems in their knee and hip. The additional body weight puts more pressure on the joints and causes pain during movement.

    Many other issues like respiratory ailments, angina, sleep apnea, etc. are also indirectly attributed to obesity.

    Health insurance premiums for people with obesity

    At the time of signing up, a health insurer is likely to collect various information about a potential policyholder. Some of these details include information like height, weight, body fat percentage, etc. These details are also requested in the pre-insurance medical examination. When calculating the premium amount for a specific individual, BMI is taken into consideration. People who exceed the acceptable level of body weight criteria will have to pay more to obtain health insurance coverage.

    The measure used by health insurance companies to set premiums for obese individuals may vary from one insurer to another. Obese individuals who already have obesity-induced illnesses might end up paying much higher premiums compared to other people. Moreover, these individuals may also have to accept the waiting period criteria set forth for pre-existing illnesses.

    Rewards for healthy lifestyle

    While people with obesity pay higher premiums for health insurance coverage, they can turn this around by following a healthy lifestyle. Most of the top health insurance companies in the market reward healthy lifestyle by providing premium discounts on policies. There are insurance companies that provide customers with activity monitors to track their health. With more activities and improved health condition, you can turn it around and claim rewards for following a healthy lifestyle.

    The type of rewards offered for following a healthy lifestyle may vary from one company to another. Even the premium charges associated with obesity may differ in the market. When you buy a health insurance policy, you must check out the premium quotes from different insurers in the market before making the purchase.

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