Thursday, March 15, 2007

You Are What You Eat And How It Affects Your Health Insurance

by Melih Oztalay


Growing waistlines equal growing healthcare costs. At least that's how it seems regarding health and health insurance. A famous documentary has already shown the short-term impact of too many super-sized meals. But did you know that there's another price you're paying now - in health insurance dollars - for our nation's weight problem?

Health insurance rates have been rising, with double-digit increases in each of the past three years. Most analysts blame these rising costs on an increased use of medical services. Are we just a nation of hypochondriacs? Why are we visiting doctor's offices in droves? As many experts are pointing out, part of the answer may be obesity.

More than 60 percent of Americans presently qualify as overweight or obese. Even among children, obesity rates have tripled over the past decade. Obesity is known to considerably raise your risk of orthopedic problems, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancer, and respiratory problems. The Surgeon General's office estimates that obesity costs the economy more than $100 billion a year.

Insurance companies understand that obesity is costly. If you're an obese person trying to get health coverage, you may be turned down due to the risks associated with your weight. If you're not turned down, you'll probably pay more for coverage, up to twice as much as a slimmer person. And even though you can't be turned down for employer-sponsored health insurance based on obesity, the increased cost of insuring you becomes a financial burden not only for you, but also for your coworkers.

Now this doesn't mean that skinny people should blame heavier people for the annual insurance rate hikes that everyone dreads. There are other factors involved, like the increased use of prescription drugs and costly new medical technologies. But if the majority of Americans is obese and it's substantially more expensive to insure an obese person, you can begin to see how big a role an expanding waistline may play in expanding health insurance costs.

So, what can we all do about this waistline epidemic? In the United States alone, obesity is expected to overtake smoking as the number-one cause of preventable death. Through a combination of government action and an aggressive public persuasion campaign, smoking is on the decline. These tactics can also be used in the battle on obesity.

Or perhaps we need to make the connection between obesity and health insurance costs more apparent to encourage our government and public health organizations to help in the battle of the bulge. Maybe that will encourage health insurance companies to expand coverage for weight-loss programs and procedures. Most importantly, perhaps if we feel the impact of obesity in our pocketbooks, we'll take our health more seriously.

If you've never considered the ramifications of what you eat, maybe you should. It may not seem like it will affect your health now, but it certainly will in the long run. And as you'll discover, what affects your health also will eventually affect your bank account.


About the Author
Melih ("may-lee") Oztalay, CEO SmartFinds Internet Marketing Web: www.precedent.com EMail: melih@hsfideas.com Precedent - Health Insurance For The Rest Of Us

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You Are What You Eat And How It Affects Your Health Insurance

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