Smokers should pay more for health insurance, but obese should not, national poll finds

Nearly 60 percent of people in October’s Thomson ReutersNPR Health Poll said smokers should pay more for their health insurance than those who don’t smoke, but 69 percent said “no” when asked if people who are overweight or obese should pay more.

Support for punishing smokers was greatest among groups less likely to smoke. Almost three-fourths of people in households with an annual income of $100,000 or more felt smokers should pay more than nonsmokers, Sarah Kliff of The Washington Post reports. There was nearly as much support — 70 percent — among people asked with at least a college degree.
But when it came to the weight-related question, the majority of people, regardless of education or household income, did not support having people who are overweight or obese pay more. Just 31 percent supported the idea.

Overwhelmingly, nearly 85 percent of respondents felt people who eat right and do not smoke should receive a discount on their health insurance premiums.

Each month, the poll surveys 3,000 Americans to gauge opinions on a variety of health-care topics. The poll, which is independently funded, has a margin of error of 1.8 percent. (Read more)
The poll results were released at a time when many mid- and large-scale companies are asking their smoking, obese employees to pay higher premiums than their more healthy colleagues. In 2012, almost 40 percent of these companies, including Walmart, will start using penalties to control unhealthy behavior. That’s up from 19 percent this year and just 8 percent in 2009. (Read more)
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