During the past 10 years there has been a dramatic upturn in Obesity and overweight adults in America and as you can imagine it has had a serious cost impact on the U.S. health care system. While many consumers who are denied health insurance coverage for being overweight or rated with a “fat tax” may feel that they are being jilted by the insurance underwriting system. Fair or not treatment for health issues associated with overweight and obese individuals does have significant repercussions on the economy and the overall cost of health care.
The underwriters use a system for determining your height and weight calculations to determine acceptable ranges. The correlation of the two defines a number called the BMI or ” body mass index” and gives the underwriters an estimate of body fat. According to the department of human health services a BMI of 30 is considered obese and 25 to 29.9 is overweight. If your BMI is higher than 43 you will not likely qualify for traditional health insurance coverage. If your BMI is between 29-43, a health insurer may choose to offer you health insurance with a rated up premium. If you have pre-existing health issues in relation to your weight, such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, a health insurer may deny you coverage altogether, even if your BMI is within range. In addition to the BMI the belly fat or waist circumference is a good indicator of future health problems associated with excess weight such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
Overweight inactive individuals with a propensity to store excess stomach fat will eventually experience insulin resistance, and or other heart health issues. When underwriters review an application and see that an applicant has a combination of these pre-existing conditions a red flag is immediately raised regarding the application. Underwriters have certain risk criteria they use when combining your BMI with other risk factors such as smoking, and the health issues previously mentioned that might be exacerbated when combined together.
Certain combinations of these will result in a decline for health coverage. Excess Weight Affect Your Health and Cost of Health care? While many overweight individuals may feel they are being railroaded by the insurers, the conclusion is that between 2 and 7% of all health care cost are associated with overweight and obesity, which resulted from health issues associated with the treatment of the overweight factors such as hypertension, insulin resistance or diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiac conditions, certain forms of cancer, respiratory issues, inactivity, absenteeism from work, mortality cost, and loss of family income from premature death. What You can Do to Obtain Approval For A Health Insurance Policy If you believe you may be overweight and may not qualify for individual or family health coverage, you can take a few precautions prior to submitting a health application. You should find a qualified health insurance broker who offers more than one carrier’s products and is knowledgeable about some of the underwriting requirements or is able to research the best plan for you.
You can complete a prescreen application which will allow the broker to communicate with underwriters the issues prior to submitting the application and improve your chances of approval and avoid a potential decline. A decline can really be detrimental to obtaining creditable coverage. You should also review the BMI tables while not all tables are the same this will give you an idea of how close or far you are from current healthy body mass index levels for your height. Lastly consider improving your health for your own benefit by starting some basic exercise like walking 30 minutes a day, educating yourself about nutritious foods, eliminating empty calories like sugar and saturated fats and creating a lifestyle that makes you feel good, makes you productive, make you look great, reverse some health problems altogether and extend your life and most of all affords you quality health insurance.
Chris Beard is a virtual insurance agent providing automated online and tele-service insurance services to protect Florida families with health insurance, HSAs, life insurance, mortgage protection, medicare advantage and temporary health plans.
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