Obese adults pay 23 percent higher premiums

Obesity has long been a source for health problems, but new data shows the epidemic is also taking a heavy toll on wallets.

According to eHealth data, policyholders in the obese BMI category pay an average monthly premium 22.6 percent higher than those in the normal BMI category ($164 compared to $201). For men, it’s an even heftier toll: The average monthly premium paid by men in the obese category ($187) is 30.8 percent higher than the average premium paid by men in the normal category ($143).

And smokers don’t have it easy, either.  The average monthly premium for smokers is 14 percent higher than non-smokers.

“We’ve known for a long time that smoking and obesity can have an impact on overall health and longevity,” says eHealth Chief Executive Office Gary Lauer. “Now, thanks to the data eHealth is releasing, we can put a dollar figure on what it costs Americans today in terms of higher health insurance premiums in the individual market. We feel that this data can provide further incentive to any individual trying to tackle these important health issues.”

Comparisons of average premium costs relative to the applicant’s BMI are derived from a sample of more than 229,000 individual major medical policies purchased through eHealthInsurance with coverage in effect as of February 2011. Comparisons of average premium costs for smokers and non-smokers in the report were derived from a sample of more than 274,000 individual major medical policies purchased through eHealthInsurance with coverage in effect in February 2011.

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