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NPR poll: overcharge smokers but not the overweight

November 4, 2011

Should people with unhealthy behaviors pay more for their health insurance? That was the question posed by a recent NPR/Reuters poll. The results are somewhat contradictory.

You’d think if Americans were in favor of charging for some unhealthy behaviors, they’d support charging more for all of them. Not so. Check out the opposite results from these two questions-

Regardless of their age, more than fifty percent of Americans support penalizing smokers. But what about penalizing people who are overweight? That leads to all sorts of health problems too.

No way! A majority of Americans are opposed to that idea. Why? Scott Hensley at NPR’s health blog makes a good point

The question may have hit too close to home for some. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, about in line with the proportion in the poll that opposes higher insurance fees for the group.

What a stunning thought! People don’t like to penalize themselves! Also, perhaps we see smoking as a choice, while some folks are overweight and can’t do much about it.

NPR saw the same results when it separated out what smokers thought of increasing insurance rates for people who use cigarettes- only 32.9% supported the idea.

But almost everyone could agree on one thing, reward people with healthy behaviors-

What do you think? Would you rather be punished for unhealthy behavior or have a reward motivating you to get healthy?

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