Want more affordable health insurance? Put out the cigarette, put down the double cheeseburger, hide the salt shaker and pour your booze down the drain. The lifestyle choices you make will improve your health and may even help you find more affordable health insurance.
Based on years of studies and accumulated data, experts claim that poor lifestyle choices are the root cause of the rising cost of health care for everyone. One workplace study of 30,000 employees, found that 60% of all medical claimants and 72% of total medical payments could be attributed to unhealthy behaviors like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and over-eating.
The number of your fellow Americans out there practicing unhealthy behaviors and driving up your health care costs are pretty staggering. For example, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 65% of Americans (191 million people) are overweight, and 60 million are obese. The report cites inactivity and lousy eating habits as the primary culprits. Being obese increases your risks of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol, which in turn can up the odds that you’ll have a stroke or heart attack – which means your health care costs be 36% higher and you’ll pay 77% more for prescription drugs than a person of normal weight. The total cost of obesity in the U.S….$117 billion a year, including $61 billion in direct medical treatment, according to the CDC.
From the insurance companies’ point of view, when you engage in risky lifestyle behaviors, you’re far more likely to get sick, develop a chronic illness and file lots of claims on your insurance, even if you’re healthy when you apply for coverage. So they beef up your premiums ahead of time to help cut their potential losses. On the other hand, many insurance companies are now willing to reward you for practicing a healthy lifestyle with a health insurance discount. Even if your health insurance provider doesn’t offer discounts, you probably won’t be dinged with a premium increase at renewal. And it stands to reason that the healthier you are, the less often you’ll go to the doctor, buy prescription drugs or file health insurance claims. That means you’re going to save money on health care by virtue of not having to pony up co-pays or co-insurance. Plus, you’ll probably live longer, or at least enjoy a better quality of life while you’re here.