I’m utterly anti-smoking, although I figure people have a right to do what they want when it doesn’t affect others. This, however, alarms me as a trend.
Note—it’s group insurance, not individual. The fund in question is self-insured, so underwriting isn’t necessarily going to be the same. However, group insurance is underwritten based on the whole group, rather than individuals.
I’ve been the manager of a self-insured health insurance fund. I could not begin to imagine charging different premiums based on some demographic, even smoking.
The next group to pay higher premiums will be fat people, as they are presumed to have higher health care costs. Then? People who don’t exercise, maybe? Anyone with a history of health problems? Queer people, assuming that they’re at higher risk of HIV infection? Will they do tox screens for drug use?
At least the current decision is based on personal behavior, rather than something that is inherent to the individual.
Fat, though, is often presumed to solely be a result of behavior, when that isn’t always the case.1I’m not here to educate you about size acceptance, so don’t go there in the comments. There are plenty of sites that are far better suited for that, and I urge you to check them out if you assume that fat is always due to personal choices or that all fat people are unhealthy. There may be a genetic predisposition to being large. There may be health problems (PCOS, thyroid imbalances, etc.) that cause weight gain. There may be weight gain as a side effect of medications.2As an example, I gained more than 50 lbs. in under a year while taking the most effective antidepressant I’ve ever been on. Serious weight gain is a known side effect of that drug. Despite its efficacy, I refused to take it anymore because I couldn’t stand the weight gain.
If BMI were used (as it almost certainly would be), we’d see many people who aren’t fat classified as obese. For instance, a recent analysis showed that most of the players in the NFL, based on their BMIs, are “obese”—some even “morbidly obese.”
Part of my concern is based on another story trying to justify lower pay for fat people. There’s discussion of that story at Big Fat Blog.