Those Extra Pounds Could Raise Your Group Health Premium

August 7th, 2007 by Jeannine C

It figures that a company in the medical industry would find a way to tie insurance premiums to personal health.  Clarian Health, an Indianapolis-based hospital system, plans to implement a new group health insurance fee structure in 2009 that charges extra premium amounts for employees with certain health issues and habits.

Employees with a body mass index (ratio of height to weight) over 30 will pay an extra $10 per paycheck for being overweight.  If they smoke its $5 more, and if their cholesterol, blood pressure or glucose is high, then add another $5 each!

Clarian has decided that being forced to actually pay for bad habits is more effective than just encouraging workers to take better care of their health.  (A letter from their doctor stating that a medical issue is beyond an employee’s control will have the extra fees waived).  Of the 8,000 employees enrolled in the company’s health plan, about a third are obese and a quarter use tobacco.

Finally there’s a way to incorporate a little personal responsibility into health insurance premiums.  Many people make the choice to eat poorly, to smoke, or not to exercise.  Their health suffers as a result, which leads to higher medical expenses.  Now those individuals will help to defray those costs.

Have no doubt, other companies are watching closely to see whether this plan succeeds, and what kind of legal challenges surface, such as possible Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues.  Though it will be a few years before we know whether or not this proposal is successful, it certainly will shake up the world of employee health care.

Listen to Those Extra Pounds Could Raise Your Group Health Premium
Listen to Those Extra Pounds Could Raise Your Group Health Premium

Posted in Health Insurance, Insurance, Small Business Insurance | No Comments »