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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Three Factors That Can Increase Your Health Insurance Premiums

There are three primary factors that can pump up premiums when it comes to buying health insurance: Obesity, smoking and drinking. Not surprising is the fact that these behavioral risk factors are more likely to cause what is known as chronic health conditions, leading to an increase in health care services which increases health care costs.

Obesity is rated number one in terms of its affect on health and health care costs. Obesity refers to the amount of fat in the body. It is often discussed as body-mass index (BMI). A normal BMI is 18.5 - 24.9. Overweight is 25-29.9, and obese is 30 or more. About 30 percent of Americans are overweight, and 20 percent are obese. Persons who are obese have a 36 percent increase in health care costs and a 77 percent increase in medications. Obese patients also pay about 22 percent more for their health insurance policies than a person in the normal BMI range. Obesity in the U.S. grew 60 percent between 1991 and 2000 and is related to chronic illnesses like diabetes, coronary heart disease and hypertension.

Smoking is rated number two in affects on health and health care costs. Smokers spend about 21 percent more in health care costs and 28 percent more on medications. They also pay about 14 percent more for their health insurance premiums than non-smokers. The same results for problem drinking shows health care costs and premiums to be less than half as those for smokers.

Although other factors are considered in determining costs for health insurance, behavior-based risk factors are areas in which people can make changes to effect cost control. Exercising more, eating healthier, quitting smoking and drinking responsibly are lifestyle changes that can lower the cost of health insurance for many people.
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