Obesity and health insurance

Obesity is a common problem that has an adverse impact on the life of an obese person. The impact is not just physical but also psychological as an obese person becomes the butt of jokes in a group.

Sep 24, 2017 08:09 IST India Infoline News Service

Obesity is a common problem that has an adverse impact on the life of an obese person. The impact is not just physical but also psychological as an obese person becomes the butt of jokes in a group. This can be quite demoralising for the individual as he/she loses confidence and self-esteem. Aapart from the social handicap, an obese person is more prone to health risks such as blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

So, what is the criterion for a person to be called an obese person? The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the standard measure to determine whether or not a person is overweight, average weight or underweight. BMI is the ratio between the height and weight of an individual. Accordingly, if the height of the person is 5 feet and the weight is 80 kg, the BMI is 16, which is considered as average weight. However, if the height is 5 feet and weight is 125 kg, the person will be considered as overweight, as the BMI is 25. If the BMI exceeds 30, the person is said to be obese.

In view of the higher medical risks, are insurance companies willing to extend medical insurance to an obese person? Well, health insurers may extend medical cover to obese people but it comes at an extra cost. The insurer may ask for a higher premium for the same amount of coverage from an obese person than the amount of premium charged from a person with average weight.

Apart from higher premium,the insurance company may permanently exclude certain ailments, illnesses and complications arising from and relating to obesity from the scope of medical coverage. This might restrict the insurance cover to bare minimum, thereby defeating the very purpose of insurance coverage. In cases of extreme obesity, the insurance company may reject insurance proposal of an obese person outright.

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