Health insurance debate focusing more on well-being

The physical fitness of health insurance customers could become increasingly relevant when it comes to policy prices in the coming years.

The debate over health insurance reform is prompting tough questions about many different policy areas - including whether or not people should pay more for coverage based on their weight.

A recent New York Times report notes that some proposals currently under consideration in Congress would allow insurance discounts to people who meet specific goals through company wellness programs such as keeping within a certain weight or maintaining low blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The newspaper notes that about 40 percent of all deaths in any given year can be traced to poor health habits like smoking, failing to exercise and maintaining a poor diet.

As many insurance customers know, premiums already tend to cost more for people with chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, which are often brought on by poor diet and lifestyle habits.

With these things in mind, some of the nation's leading food and beverage companies, who themselves have faced occasional criticism for their products, recently launched the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. The goal of the organization is to fight childhood obesity.

If such efforts are successful, health insurance customers could benefit from lower rates and longer life spans in the coming years.

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Posted: October 15, 2009

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