Should smokers and fat people pay more for health care?
October 31st, 2011
12:26 PM ET

Should smokers and fat people pay more for health care?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Smokers and fat Americans could soon be paying a lot more for their health care.

Reuters reports a growing number of companies are raising health care costs for so-called unhealthy employees.

Translation: people who don't quit smoking, lose weight or lower their cholesterol.

In the past few years, many employers have been trying to get workers to voluntarily improve their health to help bring down soaring insurance costs. They've introduced weight loss programs or classes to help people stop smoking.

But not enough employees have signed up or improved their health. So instead, companies are now going to start making these employees pay more.

One recent survey shows the use of penalties is expected to climb next year to include almost 40% of large and medium-sized companies. That's up from 19% this year and only 8% in 2009.

Penalties include higher insurance premiums and deductibles for those who aren't participating in the company's health programs – and those engaged in risky health behavior, like smoking.

Wal-Mart, which insures more than 1 million people, is one such company. It says smokers consume about 25% more health care services than nonsmokers.

Starting next year, Wal-Mart will charge employees who smoke higher premiums, along with offering a free program to help them quit.

Critics worry these kinds of penalties will hurt poor people the most, since health care costs consume a bigger part of their income and they may not have as much access to gyms or fresh food.

Here's my question to you: Should smokers and fat people pay more for health care?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Health care • Obesity
soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. Larry -Denver

    Since fat people and smokers will die at an earlier age no need to pay more for insurance, since they wont be paying for it much longer. Do you really think about these questions before you post? How about diabetics, cancer surviors, the list is endless.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  2. marcia in charles town,wv

    No!! Anyone can get sick or get cancer, have a horrid wreck and we all should have the same rates. Insurence companies need to put people ahead of massive profits.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  3. June from Albany Georgia

    Why don't we just discriminate more, people who drink should pay more.It doesn't matter to the insurance companies as long as they get money. People are already having to pay to much, and if you already have something such as diabetes you pay more.All I see is greed and another way to make people pay. People smoke and never get cancer, people who do not smoke and have cancer, over weight people may be due to other medical problems and they already have problems trying to get insurance. It needs to be a flat rate for everyone.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  4. Luis Rosales

    Good question. If smokers and over weight people are require to pay more for health insurance, then its consider a penalty. Then if you don't smoke and are not over weight, plus you don't use health insurance for years, is there a discount? Luis Rosales. Pomona CA

    October 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  5. pierre glenn

    That is disgrace full answer to ask abt fat people, wht happen to people feeling. as for smokers , they no wht will happen to them.. an tht question should been broader n liittle mre respected. thank yu

    October 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  6. Noel Sivertson Roswell New Mexico.

    Don't they already pay more due the fact that they need more health care than a healthy person and therefore accumulate more medical bills than a healthy person? And where would you draw the line and how would you adjust rates? By some sort of body mass formula? By the number of cigarettes a person smokes in a day? This is a stupid idea.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  7. Mike Soja

    How about smokers and fat people pay for their own health care? What a concept.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  8. Andre from Chicago, IL

    Absolutely! Everyone keeps complaining about the health care, but don't take efforts to eat correctly and they know they should! It always seems people don't do something until it hits their pocketbook. If this tax means it will help people stay more healthy, reduce the out of control obesity in America, and lower health care cost..so be it!

    October 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  9. BILL, WI

    Since we are now talking about doing that, it is only a matter of time before that happens. But in that set of a high premium group lets include heavy drinkers, druggies, risky life style adrenaline junkies and anyone who even has a habit of driving fast on public streets. Lets not be lulled into this by some vogue PC catch phrases.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  10. Ken Victoria BC

    Well, it sounds like a good idea but what yard stick would be used to determined to measure fatness or does smoking medical weed count. Then, would not liquor users be the next target. Social engineering though tax policies never works. Prohibition proved that.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  11. s in fl

    You bet, Jack. And people who drive more than others, people who work 3 jobs, people who don't work enough, people who drink too much, those that don't drink enough. over- worriers, those who don't worry enough. Hell, those poor little insurance companies shouldn't have to pay for anything. Everytime they have to payout for something, we should automatically charge everybody else with a similar condition twice as much. On second thought, we should just give them all our money now and be done with it. Think of the savings in paperwork.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Mel - Houston

    Yes, I think they should be part of any risk pool their state has. Why stop at smokers and the obese. Why not include illegal drug users and alcoholics. These of course probably don't have insurance at all. That means they have to go to the local charity hospital for treatment for care. Guess who has to indirectly pick up that tab. No you see the importance of everyone being required to have insurance, be it public or private.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  13. Ed from California

    I'm not a smoker nor fat. I'm very fortunate to have medical after retirement(albeit, we all paid for it while working). If I wasn't so blessed, I couldn't afford medical insurance at all. I believe in following the Doctors instructions to the letter. If you don't follow their instructions, then your premiums should go way up. And, oh well, that's on you for not following the medical instructions.So, I guess yes it should. And again if the Doctor says you need help in achieving your goal in health. The Insurance company shouldn't give you a hard time in achieving that goal either. We really need a complete national group single payer medical coverage for all. We deserve the same coverage that our hired help takes for granted.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  14. pierre glenn

    This is disgracefull question to ask abt fat people, sme hve reason to be tht way. yu hve people tht are nt big n hve mre medical problems than them.as for smoker yu no they read the warning n America is stubborn abt taken advice. Insurance comp. are killing us anyway wth bills n medicine we are always use as the puppets. thank Jack.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  15. Jason from NYC

    Jack, that may be the dumbest question I've ever heard. The GOP would never accept a such an un-American thing as a tax increase on these people. That goes against everything the Grand Old Party stands for.

    Instead, the GOP would send them straight to the great State of Texas and have them serve 30 days in the electric chair (that is, unless you are a millionaire or John Boehner).

    Cue the APPLAUSE BUTTON Rick Perry!

    Jason in New York City

    October 31, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  16. Doug Ericson

    No. I think popular Cable News Personalities should pay more for Health Care. Doug. Pepperell, MA.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  17. Jayne in NH

    No. Once you start separating the herd you'll need to take out sky divers, surfers, race car drivers, anorexics, clumsy people, etc., etc., etc. Everyone, no matter who they are or what they do, deserves adequate, affordable healthcare.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  18. .George Fixher

    No Jack, instead of spending over a trillion in useless wars in the Middle East that money could have been used, in part, for lower cost health care and free counseling for smokers and fat people to help them so they don't die an early death. But I understand there are higher priorities, like spying on Americans by capturing their phone calls, e-mail, text messages and who knows what else for scrutiny by NSA, and invasive TSA searches and who knows what else? Thanks Bush and Obama, before you two we had a Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  19. Steve,NY

    Jack, I'm glad you brought that up. Fat people and smokers definetly should pay more for their Health Insurance.
    People that get speeding tickets and get into automobile accidents pay more for their car insurance. They are considered high risks. So why can't people with bad health habits be considered high risks also. It's only logical, but in liberal politics logic doesn't prevail. Some Liberal Democrat(s) in Washington stated that it's discriminasting against fat people and smokers, that's why we all have to pay. VOTE THE BUMS OUT.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  20. Pat in Michigan

    No Jack .That is not a solution.A better idea might be to stop the FDA from allowing food procesors from pouring high fructose corn syrup into everything we eat.First you fed us poison and then you blame us for being poisoned.You want less smokers ?stop all price supports to tobacco producers and cigarette companies.the price wil be out of reach.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  21. Matt from DC

    YES! The basic concept of insurance is to spread risk. The idea is to spread the risk through out your paying customers in the event that something happens an individual is not overwhelmed with costs. Risk does not mean something will happen but there is a chance something may. The risk is based on numerous factors such as, lifestyle and genetics. I am sorry but if you are overweight or a tobacco user you are going to incur a greater risk and have a greater chance of needing insurance to cover costs. Why should someone who has lived a healthy lifestyle pay for someone who has chosen not to? The fact is we can all blame genetics for one thing or the other. So yes they should pay more. If you don't like it, do something about it. Quit smoking; start working out. Live a healthy lifestyle and you won't have to pay more.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  22. Annie, Atlanta

    Sure, as well as people with over active tyroids, and underactive thyroids, and those with ADHD, and those on high blood pressure medicine, and anyone with a pre-existing condition including acne, as some insurance companies rate it. See where I'm going with this. Is any one of us perfect. Hell no. Should health care be a private enterprise? Now that's the question you need to be asking. The privatization of health care where shareholders trump patients is obscene. But that's a story for another day.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  23. Rich McKinney, Texas

    In a way Jack they already do. They do not live as long and even getting treatment for those conditions is no fun. I don't think making them pay more is the answer though. I think educating them is. We do not charge a person more that jay walks and gets hit by a car and we do not charge the Gal that has a child every year more because she gives birth like a rabbit. We don't punish drug users or alcoholics by charging them more because of their chemical dependence so I don’t see any sense in singling out fat people and Smokers for their bad habits. Where would it end?

    October 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  24. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    Jack, I understand your question but how can anyone afford to pay more for Health Care? If we start down this road than the next thing it would be, anyone with a history of cancer or any other known health problems in their genetic background, would have their Health Care canceled or would have to pay some ridiculous price. For what the price of Health Care is today here in America there are many countries in the world that have a healthcare plan for everyone at half the cost.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  25. Kevin H SD CA

    There should also be discounts for people who live an active life style, and take care of themselves in comparison to their age group! I am 54 but I am as healthy as a 21 year old! I should be paying the same rate for health insurance as a 21 year old!
    You get what you reward! Rewarding criminals and people who have no will to be responsible for their lives is what is destroying our Country!

    October 31, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  26. Rick McDaniel

    Yes. Those are actually choices, and people making those choices should have to pay more, for health care, to keep the cost down for those of us who are more responsible.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  27. Cathy

    Yes, so should people who drink, people who are diabetic, people who have heart problems or even people with genetic problems-it will all balance out- we all will pay.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  28. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Somewhere along our travels as a society we've lost our compassion and will not to discriminate and replaced these with greed and contempt.

    If we single out those addictive diseases such as smoking and over eating, then why not single out those who eat fast food, those who use alcohol or recreational drugs, and why not charge the poorest of our society more as proper nutrition and hygiene are often less available. It never ends.

    Come on, let's get human.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  29. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    They do, Jack. Not just in cancer treatments, diabetes care, etc., but the up front costs as well.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  30. Russ in PA

    Maybe we can answer this by expanding your question: what if a person is an alcoholic? Or addicted to prescription medication? Or somewhat young in age and more prone to colds than older folks? Or a family history of colon cancer? Or a family history of pancreatic cancer? Or are light-skinned and prone to sun burns? Or you don't wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle or bicycle? Or enjoy cook outs eating hamburgers and hot dogs? Or....

    October 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  31. Janne from NC

    Only if drunks & drug addicts will pay more. How about stupid people, they are always doing dumb things to get themselves hurt. How about women that keep spitting out babies ? How much is that costing us ? You start slipping down a slippery slope when you single out select segments of the population.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  32. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    YES and I say that as an addicted smoker. the more incentive for people, esp the young, to QUIT smoking the BETTER.

    as for fat people, for many, like some of my wife's relatives, it's a medical condition and being charged more for healthcare would be a "double wammy".

    October 31, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  33. Ed in California

    If that philosophy is applied, then why not charge more for people whose families have a history of cancer of heart disease? How about a history of premature births or child development problems in the family? At some point it would become like auto insurance where your rates go up every time you make a claim. Is that what we want for healthcare? Do we want someone not going to the doctor for fear of their rates going up? What if that person has a contagious disease?

    October 31, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  34. Dan in Albuquerque

    Jack, for non-smokers and fit people it sounds reasonable. However, until we do the same for alcoholics and drug users, it is unconstitutional. A better, but less dramatic solution is to continue an all-out assault on both alcohol abuse and production of food with too much sugar through education, public service, health providers and organizations. It has had significant effects on obesity throughj dirt control in schools, Tougher laws on DWI are certainly needed, too,

    October 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  35. Brad, Portland, OR

    If you start down that road, there's no stopping.

    How about people with traffic tickets or accidents? They're clearly reckless drivers and are more likely to get into injury accidents.

    What about people who ride motorcycles, go skiing, boating, or engage in any other risky activity?

    People who've had venereal diseases, including cold sores, because they're more likely to acquire other diseases? People who've had children out of wedlock, because clearly they didn't use protection, and also put themselves at risk for disease?

    What about people with children, or families in general? Obviously they use more health care resources than a single employee.

    And all of these things involve choices.

    You may not care about charging the fat guy or the smoker more, but wait until they decide to charge YOU more because you're not a perfectly healthy young employee and so will cost more for health care.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  36. TomInRochNY

    I'm one who believes those who are unhealthy should pay more. I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and I could stand to lose a few pounds. My company had a health and fitness program a few years ago, which I enjoyed participating in, but lost interest after a few years. The company dropped it due to lack of interest. If they reinstated it and jacked the rates for unhealthy people it might do a world of good all around. Cost (the biggest problem with health insurance) might go down (or the insurance companies might just take bigger profits!) and people might get healthier. Lord knows this country needs both. Sometimes you need a kick in the pants to get going. Or, in this case a kick in the wallet.

    Tom, Rochester, NY

    October 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  37. Kenneth in California

    Sooner or later they won't have the money for tobacco or much for food if they are still paying premiums. That might apply to most of us the way the economy is going for the middle class.
    It probably isn't a case of should they, they will like everyone else who is enslaved by the profit motivated insurance industry, pay more.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  38. David in Tampa

    Why not Jack? If you drive an expensive or exotic car you pay more for insurance. If your home is large, on a beach, in an earthquake or hurricane zone you pay more. If you are in a dangerous occupation either you or your employer gets a larger bill. Smokers, along with the tobacco industry, should pay to cover healthcare costs associated with their bad habit. Unlike smokers, I don't have a problem with overweight people but they are at greater risk for certain disorders and diseases. If these groups can't absorb the increased costs, the let the grand champions of individual freedom and responsibility, the Republican and Tea Parties, pay for it since they don't want the government doing it through health care reform, and not being in either group I don't want to pay higher rates to cover those costs.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  39. Jk from Minnesota

    In the case of smoking yes if they refuse to quit. In the case of weight gain – I'm not so sure that can all be attributed to bad behavior.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  40. Gary H. Boyd

    Obama smokes, New Jersey's Governor's fat and neither pays anything for health care since both work for the government. But, that's a crummy example to set for the vast majority of us who don't. If I take up smoking or get fat, I'm applying for a government job.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    October 31, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  41. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    Probably, as long as it does not lead to a denial of care or rates so high that they go uninsured. Some loss mitigation is appropirate. Loss prevention, however, reserves care for those who need it. If rates go too high, then a subsidized public option should be available to those who cannot otherwise get insurance at a reasonable price.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  42. Virginia - Atlanta, GA

    If more funds need to be collected for certain types of unhealthy behavior – why not let the tobacco companies pick up the tab for smokers, fast food restaurants that don't serve healthy food (some do serve healthy food, like Qdoba) for the obese or have type 2 diabetes, if it is certain their condition is caused by unhealthy eating. If we begin to separate people because of diseases, it might begin to punish people with costly diseases which they could not have prevented like Type one diabetes, Parkinson's, most cancers etc. which in fact may be caused by preventable environmental conditions.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  43. Bill of New Mexico

    A) Yes! Action that smokers and fat people take is costing Health Care.

    B) Will increased premiums be motivation enough for smokers to quit and fat people to reduce and eat healthily?

    C) Is a longer and improved life not a good motivation?

    D) Is there any way to motivate self-control?

    E) Probably not. It will make them angry, but it will be more fair.

    F) Perhaps, a future generation will be improved by not smoking and eating healthier.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  44. Ralph-Corpus Christi, Texas

    Jack, maybe you should ask Herman Cain's campaign Chief of Staff Mark Block if smoker's should pay more- he could do a cheap ad against it. As for a flat tax, I mean fat tax, ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
    Ralph- Corpus Christi, Texas

    October 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  45. riley oday

    If you include those who consume alcohol in there i will say yes.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  46. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Hi Jack. We have been paying more for our health care for several years because we smoke. Yes, shame on us for enjoying our lives. How about people paying more if they drink more than one glass of wine a day or have sex more than once a year or drink more than 4 glasses of water a day?

    October 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  47. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: Should fat people and smokers pay more for healthcare insurance? Should the middle class continue to pay the taxes for the 1%? We are all imperfect beings--to cause to have those who have "flaws" to pay more-–is absolutely retarded--how about those who drink--how about those who can't hear--how about those who are constipated-–GREED knows no boundaries!

    October 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  48. Jenna Roseville CA

    Should smokers and fat people pay more for health care?

    As a person who is living large, I can tell you that I don't have high blood pressure, I don't have diabetes, my knees and back are fine. I don't have cancer. Just because someone is living large doesn't mean that it is by choice nor unhealthy. I Jack gain weight if I try to live on 500, 1000, or even 1500 calories a day. I excersize daily and I have a positive outlook on life. Not everyone is meant to be a size two.

    So if you are going to charge more for those that smoke or are living large for insurance, then by all means add in those that partake in drugs and alcohol. Both are just as costly in care as smoking/weight. As well as those who are too thin. There are health issue associated with those folks as well.

    Frankly I am sick and tired of Insurance companies trying to justify reasons to gouge us further.

    Roseville CA

    October 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  49. Rex in Portland, Oregon

    Health care? Why not address the problem which is "lack of health care" or "the gross expense of health care" rather than take a view that would increase the expense? Those who profit from the illness of others have convinced the media that their claims are legitimate, that their goals are lofty, that their aim is health (!!!), and that they are concerned with expense. It is all propaganda, Jack. No one, not even the near dead, should pay MORE to these vultures. Fat, smokers, too skinny, birth defects, pimples.... everyone should pay more, right? More profit.

    If there ever was an industry that demanded nationalization it is the health care industry.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  50. Kim Smith

    Since it would be impossible, and unfair, to have exepmtions for all the possiblities of lifestyle choice or legitimate medical neccessity, charging more for the obese is a tough call. As for smokers, that is much more clear-cut and it would make sense to raise rates for those. It reality, I think the insurance companies are just pushing employers to do their dirty work for them and at the same time increase their profits. Corporate medical syndrome, anyone?

    October 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  51. Billy D, Bellingham, Wash

    Sure they should, as long as drinkers and potheads follow suit. And while we're at it let's throw in really tall people because you never see any really old really tall people around; and drivers too, because automobile accidents kill more people than just about anything else, don't they? ... Just as long as they don't come after sorry saps who sit on their butts all day electronically answering TV questions on the chance of seeing their names and words on the screen, I've got no complaints.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  52. Matt


    As a former smoker I firmly believe that people who engage in unhealthy and unsafe activities should pay more health care but then that only works if they have insurance.


    October 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  53. David Doherty

    Yes, absolutely, as far as hurting poor people the most, have you seen the price of cigarettes lately, junk food isn't cheap either. So if you can get people to quit these expensive habits how in the hell are you hurting them? If they choose to continue these very destructive practices they have no one to blame but them selves!
    Dave from NH.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  54. David from Herndon, VA

    Obviously, but the mere mention of it in this country means you must be a communist, because you're taking money from one group and giving it to another. Of course, lowering taxes on the rich, which is essentially stealing money from the next generation, means you're a conservative capitalist. I guess intellectual consistency isn't our strong suit.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  55. Loren

    Smokers, yes. There is no question that smoking increases health risks and those who don't smoke shouldn't have to bear the burden of those who choose this insidiious habit.

    "Fat" people. That one's a bit harder because while being overweight, such as gross obesity, is a health issue, being overweight is relative and doesn't have as close a correlative relationship to health as smoking does.

    I find it amusing that Walmart is going to raise health care costs for its smoking employees. Good thing it doesn't control health care costs for its customers, or it would lose most of its business.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  56. Pete from Georgia

    Jack......................you've just described 50% of America !!!
    Good luck in getting that bit of reality dealt with.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  57. Gigi Oregon

    Yes, and those with alcohol related diseases.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  58. John

    I have always thought it odd that smokers are so shunned, at least in part because of the health problems and costs they bring, while the wilfully overweight are victims of the fast food industry. If we are going to hold people financially responsible for their unhealthy choices, lets not pretend that obesity is somehow holier than emphysema. If you have a thyroid problem, you'd better have a doctor's note.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  59. Larry in Houston

    Jack –

    Hate to be a bearer of bad tidings, but you have to put yourself in their shoes. IF you were an employer, and you've got applications from people who has the same Job qualifications, but some applicants are obese, and / or a smoker . Who would YOU Hire First ?? The slim & trim one, or the one who's got a medium waistline that goes with their body / or height proportionate, or the 3 pack a day smoker ?

    October 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  60. Paulette in Dallas

    Yes. These people should be paying more money for health insurance. The arguement that it will hurt poor people doesn't hold any water. They will save a fortune if they quit buying cigarettes. Poor people can afford this expensive health hazard luxury? Forget about being able to afford to go to a gym. Walk. Exercise at home. Use whatever they have on hand as weights. A person with emphsema is a tremendous cost to the health care system and it is primarily caused by smoking. Hopefully these penalties will get these overindulgent people to quit their bad habits and lead healthier lives thus live longer. When they get their habits under control then their premiums could also be lowered. Another incentive.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  61. bonnie from NJ

    I actually fit into both of these catagories and I do agree that the charge should be more. Although my company does not provide anything to assist me with these items, there is plenty of free and low cost assistance on both items. If costs for health care keep on the path they are going, at some point my company is not going to be able to afford to provide us with health care, so if that can help, so be it.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  62. Lori - PA


    Instead of punishing people, why not reward them? Why not make health insurance premiums lower for those that take steps to improve their health? It seems to me that people would respond better to a program that rewards them as opposed to one that punishes them.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  63. sam delray beach fl

    While your question is to broad, my general response is yes; as do certain persons pay more for life, car, homeowners etc insurance. For the most part, their issues are self-inflicted for which they should pay.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm |

    No. They already spend more money, on cigs and food, than I do. Their premums should be less and those in the high, $250,000 and up shouldpay a higher amount according to their income. METALWORKER in La Salle, IL

    October 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  65. Karl in Flint

    Sounds like the Republican/Tea Party Health Care Reform Plan to mer.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  66. Andy in Vancouver, BC

    I don't like the idea of making anyone pay more (people pay enough as it is), I think discounts for good behavior would be appropriate. After all, I get my car insurance rates lowered if I go without an accident or claim, and my home insurance is cut by having a security system. Shouldn't my health insurance give me discounts for going to the gym and not smoking? Seems to make sense.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  67. jeff in hawaii

    No. Instead, outlaw tobacco and educate everyone on better diets.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  68. Dave, Orlando, FL

    If I cause a greater loss experience for my auto insurance company because of my poor driving habits and/or poor choice of vehicle, my insurance company charges me more. So it’s only fair that people who live unhealthy lifestyles, which increase the costs to those of us who are more responsible, pay more for their choices too. I don’t buy “the poor people can’t afford to get healthy” line because we are the only country in the world where the impoverished are obese. Just look at the people riding the motorized shopping carts. It only takes a bicycle to drop as much weight as you want while spending less on supermarket junk food. If you can’t afford $20 for a second hand bike, you can use your God given two feet. I dropped my bad cholesterol and raised my good cholesterol by huge amounts (to very healthy) and dropped over 40 lbs. (to ideal) all in four months and I quit smoking in a day. I feel great and I saved a fortune on potato chips and junk food.

    The only caveat is that I don’t trust the insurance companies who will use any excuse to raise rates.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  69. RickFromDetroit

    Good Question! Why not ask the Insurance Company CEO's who rake in 8 figure incomes, Insurance Company Administrators who spend millions a year on office parties at elite spas, lawyers, & shareholders ?

    October 31, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  70. Mitoosense Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Where are the numbers to support that lifestyle behaviors are significant costs. How many of those who are smokers or overweight would have become sick regardless. I don't need or want Health Insurance. I need sick insurance regardless if I deserved it or was born with a genetic flaw. We all die, we will all make a claim upon society at some point. Nobody gets out of here alive......

    October 31, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  71. Carla from Alabama

    We should ALL pay LESS for healthcare – period. My ex-doctor had 9 signs on the wall of his waiting room stating “cash for service rendered” and “no Medicare accepted”. I overheard a pharmaceutical rep entice him with all kinds of freebies to push her drugs. Doctors charge whatever exorbitant price they want, and have NO incentive to make us well because then, they’d lose money. Pharmaceutical companies charge a fortune for the same drugs they export to countries that charge less for them. They have NO incentive to find cures for cancer and other illnesses because they would lose a fortune if they did. Hospitals charge a king’s ransom for a box of Kleenex. Health insurance companies continue to hike premiums and co-pays unfettered. If we are to receive adequate healthcare in this very backward country, we must rein the medical industry in tightly. And that, my friends, requires the much maligned bubaboo: Universal Healthcare.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  72. Cy Gardner

    So, the people known as "corporations" are free to lie, stretch the truth and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get people, even children, to want cigarettes, sugar and grease. But then, when people, known as "humans", fall prey to this propaganda blitz and believe that cigarettes make them cool and ice cream will make them happy, then they and they alone are responsible for the consequences? Of course, this is America, corporations are free to do anything they want and individuals pay all the freight. Every day, I wish more and more that Canada wasn't so damn cold. cy from arlington, va

    October 31, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  73. Albert Parmar

    Hey Jack,

    If they can pay for their smoking, there is no way they can not pay for their additional cost of their own health care, if they can kill them selves with money why to be burden other people who lives healthy life style.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  74. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    Add to prior comment: Employers, however, have no business even asking these questions and companies should be banned from forcing them to.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  75. Tyler

    Absolutely! These unhealthy choices in life ( yes, being fat is a choice...not a disease) deserve consequences.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  76. Sam

    Why should we pay for other people's liabilities? Voluntary choices are made around individual smoking and eating habits and companies may likewise choose to acknowledge these habits as liabilities.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  77. Les in Maple Valley, WA

    None of us should have to pay anything for health care. Health care is a basic human right and that right is not negated by smoking or overeating.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  78. Lindsey, North Hollywood, CA

    ABSOLUTELY! These are things that people can control, and why anyone would choose to smoke in this day in age is beyond me. Come on, being fat and being a smoker are BOTH addictions and choices, just like a drug addict.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  79. George Gray

    Should fat people and smokers pay more for healthcare insurance? Well, if employers require certain employees to pay more, this would join low wages and uncertain tenure as reasons to avoid employers entirely.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  80. Pamela in Texas

    Yes, Jack. These folks made the decision to smoke, so they should pay more. As for being overweight, it doesn't cost anything to walk either in the mornings or evenings, and staying away from the dingdongs and cheezypoofs might help as well. If they spend more for health insurance, maybe they won't have enough funds for cigarettes or junk food!!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  81. Paul

    Hey Jack- These people should probably pay more but YOU should pay more attention to the words you use. Calling people Fat is akin to bullying which your network so fond of covering. There are several acceptable terms such as overweight. Shame on you!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  82. Robert

    yes. simply put, yes. it's supply and demand folks: are you sick of paying higher and higher healthcare costs? then you need to curb the amount being used. smokers and overweight individuals (among many others) require more healthcare services and resources than healthy individuals. The more people need it, the more it goes up. It's just that simple. How much do you think a video cassette player would sell for these days? There's my point.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  83. Zach

    They should only be charged more if 1) their habits actually incur measurably more cost, and 2) those individuals without the same habits get a discount.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  84. Michael

    why are "the poor" smoking anyway? Let me get this straight, "the not poor" buy "the poor" food, while "the poor" buy cigarettes. What a deal...

    October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  85. Steve-Philadelphia

    Yes, they should. If you are knowingly putting your health at risk you should be forced to pay more for your insurance. As a reformed smoker it was hard to quit, but I now save a ton of money by not smoking at 10 bucks a pack. So it's additional incentive to stop smoking. Not to mention I don't get sick nearly as often.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  86. AB

    Yes, I think that people who smoke and are obese should pay more in health insurance premiums to offset the increasing costs of their eventual care once they become ill as a result of their unhealthy lifestyle. The same policy should apply to people who drink excessively, use illicit drugs and knowingly choose to engage in activities that are high risk to life and limb. Once people feel it in the wallet/pocketbook,. prehaps they will be more motivated to change their behavior and adopt more healthy habits.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  87. Lindsey-Florida

    Absolutely they should. Smoking and the lack of eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a choice everyone can make. Offering health insurance is a choice employeers can make, so why should employeers have to to pay more for an employee who knowingly chose to live a unhealthy lifestyle?

    October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  88. kwesi, Springfield, MA

    Jack, the answer is simple. Yes Yes yes and More more more!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  89. Doug Swartwood

    Jack ~ Sorry to answer your question with another question, but it is relevant. What's next then? Should fertile women have to pay more for health insurance than women who can't reproduce? After all they are more likely to have higher health care costs!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  90. Manda Bear

    Yes! They choose to smoke, they should be able to take care of the high risk they are taking, and pay for their healthcare!

    For overweight people, it depends on case by case! If they are lazy and indulge themselves with bad food and refuse to change that! That's their problem! Why would us healthier employees have to foot their hiking rate of insurance for them? It seems unfair to those of us that take care of our health?

    October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  91. WillyC in Virginia

    Absolutely they should. This is self-inflicted risk that clearly results in higher medical costs. As one who quit smoking 40+ years ago and has struggled throughout my life with my weight, I've been able to control both problems without the aid of health club memberships, weight loss programs etc. Its about personal choices. If you choose to inhale smoke and you choose to eat fast food and unhealthy crap in vast quantities, then you choose to pay more for healthcare.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  92. Sandstone.

    "My answer is no they should not pay more, they already pay far more than there share of the tax if they smoke, now if they are overly-fat then it is different as they eat through greed and nothing more. Well you ask for my opinion!!"

    October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  93. don schaefer

    Absolutely !! Its all about personal responsibility..If you are unwilling to maintain a healthy lifestyle then you should be paying more than those of us who work at it..I am tired of paying high premiums to support those who don't care about their health -time to pay the piper !

    October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  94. Lynn riker

    Yes. Why should I continue to support bad behavior by paying for it. An alternative might be to give those of us non-smokers and who are not obese a discount.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  95. David, MS

    Iam a fat smoker and I say no. Lower the rates on those that live heathier lifestyles and leave me the heck alone.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  96. Connor from Taylor, Texas

    Yes Jack, this is what we need. Ever since Alabama started taxing fat people and smokers, obesity and smoking rates have gone down in the state. But unfortunately it is not popular across the country if govt. does this. So lets use the corporations who stretch across the states to implement this and maybe we can finally get our overweight problem under control.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  97. Gina from Los Angeles

    They absolutely should pay more. This should have been in effect years ago. Why should people who make an effort to stay healthy be penalized when people who are willingly and knowingly partaking in detrimental activities pay the same amount. The idea that poor people will be hurt by this is ridiculous. Many people do not belong to gyms and still find other ways to exercise. Running and hiking require no money. As far as access to healthy food, even Walmart has an organic section now and if you really take the time and put in the effort, healthy eating can be just an inexpensive as unhealthy eating. People have known for years that smoking causes a variety of health problems and, especially if these companies are offering programs to assist in quitting, there is no reason nowadays to still be partaking. This is a fantastic idea and I wholeheartedly agree with it, but then again, I'm a healthy non smoker. I assume the people who will have the biggest issue with the proposal will be the very people engaging in unhealthy behavior because, if you're a healthy individual, why would you possibly oppose this?

    October 31, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  98. Don C.

    Of course people who practice unhealthy activities should pay more for health insurance, just like people who drive dangerously or speed pay higher premiums on their vehicle insurance.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  99. Robert

    Being a smoker, obese, unhealthy is a choice. I excersise every day, eat healthy and take care of myself. Why should I pay for other peoples bad choices. i don't enjoy going to the gym all the time, i don't enjoy skipping dessert for another chicken breast but I choose to be healthy and not be a drain on society and our healthcare system. If someone makes bad choices I shouldn't be penalized for it. As long as there are no consequences for these people for their choices why would they change. Penalize them for bad choices and their habits will change.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  100. Bill M.

    Instead of penalizing smokers and obese individuals, reward the the healthy with cash. Every month, you calculate what you might have spent on health insurance had the individual been a smoker or obese and give them half. As word spreads what the changes. After all, like the commercial states, who doesn't want 50% more cash!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  101. Angela University place washington

    This is why we need the health care reform... good or bad is better than none. Will they ask those with heart attacks, strokes, cancer, in the family history to pay more also, maybe they should ask those who come up with these senseless ideas to pay more just for being stupid.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  102. Michael Roepke Dallas, TX

    Should auto insurance favor safe drivers with discounts? Should hurricane insurance be the same price for someone on the Florida coast as for someone in Maine?

    October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  103. Samuel Taylor

    I know, I know, he shouted while furiously waving His
    upheld hand.
    Then He Blurted out without being called upon.
    "let the Insurance companies charge anyone a penalty,
    when they need their Health Insurance".
    then we must determine just what obese means, and to whom.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  104. Gene

    Without a doubt they should be paying more. This should be pro-rated, if you need more insurance you should pay more. They are using 25% more insurance, they should be paying 25% more!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  105. David Voiles

    There are too many things that can cause one's life to be shortened. If you do this... let's include ALL the circumstances that can shorten life or cause one to need health care.

    Dave Voiles
    New Bern, NC

    October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  106. Laura Lunn

    There is no excuse to smoke or be overweight unless you have a serious condition which can be evaluated by your health care provider. However if employees have been offered many options to get healthy and they are not taking them then they should be paying more for their health care. There is no reason why they can't quit smoking or lose weight. There is always a reason but there is never an excuse for bad health.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  107. andrew in pinehurst, nc

    Jack, Smokers and fat people should pay more for insurance. Fat people, who are smokers, should pay double. At the same time, skinny non-smokers should pay half.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  108. Mastermind Hour from Grand Junction, CO

    If this is fair, then why not have Phillip Morris kick in? I've given enough money for their addictively engineered products. Are we going to ask them to shell out for my extra expenses?

    October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  109. gerry austin tx

    In the whole debate about rising health care costs we have been avoiding the issue of personal responsibility – yes people who make an effort to live a healthy life should be rewarded with lower insurace premiums.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  110. Gary in Missouri

    Jack, when we start down this road of charging people higher premiums based on the choices they make where does it end. Will those that enjoy dangerous sports have to pay more. I don't like the idea of singling groups out.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  111. Desmond Mason

    Yes. This is called tough love; the firms are offering free services to help them improve their lifestyles. If they participate and make improvements then there is no impact. The services have been available but no one took advantage. It is a shame that money has to be a motivator to incent someone to become healthy!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  112. Patrick in Michigan

    No because they aren't going to lower the rates for those that aren't overweight and don't smoke........The rates are created for all by taking into consideration the overweight and the smokers........just like they take into consideration the chance of developing cancer....I grew up about the time a cure for polio was discovered......I don't remember the big refund check from the insurance companies when that threat was eliminated.......Insurance companies are just looking to take in more bucks but those that aren't a problem will still pay the same high rates

    October 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  113. Bala

    Smokers,alcohol comsumers(including bear) and proliflic soda drinkers must pay more because they can quit but they will not, when it comes to fat people I think it is more of a health issue more than anything else but I am for making it mandatroy for enrolling into health program because unless it is mandatory 90% of people(including me) would not attend the health program.

    P.S:- I am not a somker or fat(atleast for now) so no bias aganist smokers.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  114. Randall, Lexington, SC

    Yes, they should pay more. The benchmark for all insurance underwriting is computed by an exposure to risk formula. Just as your auto loan down payment and interest rate are computed by your credit, income, stability, etc which creates the exposure to the risk of loan default. Futhermore, how can anyone say this would hurt poor folks when ciggarettes are $6 per pack, just 1 pack a day is $180 a month they could use for better food or a gym membership.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  115. Allen

    Certainly not directly. We need a socialized medicine system like the rest of the modern world. Besides, if you make obese people a political issue you will lose at the ballot box because most of are obese. So stick that in your McRib.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  116. cjr

    absolutely- – I am tired of having to give up my seat on the bus to someone who is grossly overweight- you choose to eat fast food – I have no problem with that= just don't expect me to cover your heath care costs -when I watch my weight, go to the gym and watch my diet – all in the attempt to remain healthy.-and to keep health care costs under control.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  117. John Morgantown WV

    Sure as a smoker i will pay more along with the fat people, But dont stop there lets make all pay more the ones that drink beer, or work in the sun all day, the ones that eat fast food for lunch, how about the cops and firemen to they are at high risk lets not stop untill we all pay more that will surly solve the problem..

    October 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  118. Ray Elman

    You don't have to be rich to eat healthy, exercise, and give up smoking. You just have to give a damn. I recently watched obese administrative people at a healthcare facility in Massachusetts shovel potato chips and donuts into their fat faces, and I couldn't help but wonder how someone who works in healthcare could be so oblivious to be so self-destructive. If higher insurance premiums gets there attention I am all for it.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  119. Jon

    I don't think it matters that much...whether you smoke, eat alot, or attack an ant hill in your back yard with a knife and fork. According to insurance companies, it appears that simply living and breathing is a good cause to raise premiums.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  120. Dan, Pittsburgh

    Jack, glad you touched on a subject I feel so passionate about. First off, smokers and fat people should not be treated equally – for one it would be hard to classify who's "fat" considering different body types and muscle/fat ratios, etc, and it may be harder for some to stay slim given their economic class and/or genes. Smokers, however, should definitely pay more for health care, etc. They take non-stop breaks throughout the day, contaminate air outside the office (and drag it inside as well), and drive up health care costs for everyone. Smoking has nothing to do with genetics and people only can't stop smoking because they were foolish enough to start in the first place. Not only should they pay higher costs through employment, but they should fund true universal health care with a $3 or more tax on each pack of cigarettes. Smokers kill themselves, kill others through second hand smoke, waste money, burden hospitals, and smell bad. I have no sympathy for them whatsoever.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  121. Jose Vasquez

    Absolutely! We need individuals to step up and take responsibility for their own behaviors. If that translates into higher premiums; so be it. We do the same for car insurance and why not for health insurance.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  122. Hank Corbett - Jacksonville, NC

    Yes, Jack, I think the insurance for smokers should be more expensive. I also think tobacco should be taxed out of existence. I don't say this to punish smokers, I say it to get tobacco off the market so it will not impact the lives of today's children. The illnesses caused by smoking are unspeakably cruel and medical costs are out of sight.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  123. Mary in Charlottesville VA

    I pay for an individual policy for our family, (we do not get health insurance through employment) and what most people don't realize is that insurance companies already practice this discrimination. If you have a certain prescription, or just have a test ordered from your doctors, the insurance companies will raise the premiums once a year regardless of whether this condition has been confirmed or not. My son had a hemoglobin test before an emergency surgery, and now our insurance considers him diabetic, which he is not, and we have not been able to get them to change this. So... to those healthy ones out there shouting "YES they should charge".. beware, they may be charging you for breathing fresh air one day!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  124. roger

    It is only fair that those who have negative behavior pay more for their health care. Why should those who have healthy habits subsidise them? Besides they can take the money they save by adopting healthy habits and have more spending money. If you get a lot of speeding/reckless driving tickets or accidents you paay more for auto insurrance-same principle. If the answer is a choice between free behavior modification/education and wasting money on junk food, and they choose to waste money, this will decrease the money for waste, and encourage adopting behavior to save that money.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  125. kim

    LOL America. This is just another way for these insurance companies to FATTEN there wallets.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  126. Craig from Virginia

    No. As a reformed Republican, its not fair. Healthy, beautiful people have all the advantages in life. They should foot the bill for the fat and un-healthy. And while you're at it tax them MORE too.....its only fair.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  127. Mark Zimmerman in New Jersey

    Sure why not? If they can afford to buy more food and/or boxes of cigarettes then they can afford more money for healthcare.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  128. michael collins

    Of course they should pay more. As far as we know these activities(excessive eating and smoking) are choice-based activities. People should pay extra for these procliviites. This is not like people with cancer, etc. I realize this is a difficult area to try to control as some activites are based on genetic predisposition, etc. The most obviou and clearest cases of physical abuse by a person on themselves should cost the perpetrator. SMoking, excessive drinking, over eating should be the responsiblity of the person who practices these activiites. Why should all of us pay for excess by others?

    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  129. michael s.

    People who use more healthcare resources because of a poor lifestyle choice such as smoking or poor diet should pay more. It doesn't matter how long or short they live. They USE MORE resources while alive.
    Why should we pay pay for others' poor choices?
    This is not about poor genes. We all know that if we do the right things (exercise, eat properly, stop smoking, drink in moderation and take medications to prevent disease from getting worse) we will all spend less on healthcare.
    It's about time that we are made to be accountable for our actions.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  130. Lu RN BSN

    Of course they should pay more. It's about personal responsibility. Use more, pay more.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  131. Ram from NY

    Look, this isn't about alienating people or being mean for being mean's sake. As a former smoker I would absolutely not blame anybody else (Government, insurance companies, etc.) for charging me more for healthcare. It was MY CHOICE to go and buy cigarettes as it was my choice to quit. Why would anybody else have to pay for my poor choices?

    And let's be clear here, it is overwhelmingly statistically supported that smokers and the overweight suffer health issues and require more money. All this can be prevented, there is no excuse whatsoever for smoking and for remaining overweight and not actively trying to change.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  132. Oscar J

    This is a great idea. In reality employers are directly helping them save. Cigarettes, co-pays and junk food add up, and all these savings could give them (Smokers and Fat People) "healthier food" or that gym membership they want so bad. Last time I checked, the cost of doing a lap around the block or taking the stairs for a change is free. Thanks Jack!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  133. mike sey, Ottawa

    Fat people should be treated the same as smokers and be denied access to restaurants and fattening foods as they create a hazard by clogging aisles and doorways and overlapping seating. Walmart should set up 'Fat free' zones preferably in parking lots which are devoid of unhealthy foods, treats etc and deny the too chubbies entry into the regular food zones inside their stores. Fair is fair!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  134. Larryy should get all the treatment they need

    Fat people and smokers should pay more absolutly. Health care costs more for them (even though both overeating and tobacco are addictoions when they started they knew the dangers). We all souldn't have to pay for their addictions.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  135. Zach from Maryland

    Yes they should! Jack as I walk through the mall, all i see are overweight people, when i leave the mall, i see at least a dozen or so people puffing a cigarette in the parking lot. If people can't be motivated to change their bad habits on their own, maybe higher health care costs will make them think twice about their choices. After all, those type of people are much more likely to run up high doctor bills.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  136. Omar from California

    No, it's just impractical. How would a company define "fat" or "smoker"? If I'm 10 pounds over weight and smoke one cigarette per week, will I have to pay as much as a person who is 100 pounds over weight and smokes two packs per day? We're both fat, and we both smoke. A company would spend more than it'd save by attempting such differentiation.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  137. Exor

    YES! Smoking and obesity is a free choice. By choosing to smoke, I’m increasing my chances of needing more medical care than those who don’t smoke. The same goes for obesity. In most cases, obesity is a self-inflicting decease. If I chose to remain fat by following an unhealthy lifestyle then I should pay the cost for the consequences. It is a fact that if you leave an unhealthy lifestyle, your lifespan will be shorten and costlier. So pay up!
    Exor – Puerto Rico, USA

    October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  138. Rassin

    Those of us who are short people should be ready. We could be next in line just so because we are short.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  139. Chris in VA

    Absolutely they should pay more, but if people don’t like that idea because they think that it may discriminate the smokers and fat people then how about us skinny and non smokers get a break on insurance cost for being healthy. Hey this reminds me of car insurance. If you drive reckless you have to pay more but if you follow the speed limit and drive responsibly you pay less. So if your reckless with your health then you should pay more

    October 31, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  140. James

    When will man move to his next level of consciousness and realize we're all in this together ? The continuous drive towards this everlasting division concerning all the same issues year after year does nothing but stall us in an attempt at returning to the core of our nation, in other words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    October 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  141. Brian


    These people should absolutely pay more for their healthcare. The fact for both of these groups is that their problems are self induced.

    Let's take smokers. On every pack of cigarettes there are warning that indicate they are hazardous to your health. Smokers elect to smoke and know that they are harming themselves. Obviously they have higher medical costs associated with the ills that come with smoking.

    People that are overweight also are electing to be overweight. Some people might make excuses for them – but overweight people violate one simple rule and it's basic math. Calories in minus calories burned should equal zero. These people are choosing to eat more than they burn. It is a shame what american society has come to with everyone making an excuse for overweight people. There is no excuse other than they lack the will to eat less. Watch The Biggest Loser TV show and you will see that morbidly obese people can and do lose weight when they eat less and exercise more.

    So why should healthy people pay subsidize healthcare for unhealthy people? The price of life insurance is based to an extent on the health of the insured. The price of car insurance is based on driving record. Then why shouldn't healthcare be based on fitness level?

    Sadly in America we have far more unhealthy people than healthy so this will probably be resisted and some groups will get involved and say it's discrimination. The fact of the matter is that these people are just enablers. Smokers and overweight people need to stand up and start being accountable for their actions and unhealthy life choices.

    Lastly – I don't want to hear about poor people being harmed by this. Stop smoking and spend that money on better food. Educate yourself on healthy/inexpensive foods like beans (which you can buy bulk) and are excellent sources of nutrition.


    Healthy Reader tired of making excuses for my fellow Lazy Americans.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  142. Sunny (Toledo, Oh)

    HORRIBLE! This is nothing more than the back door legitimizing of a caste system, when dynamics such as this are put into effect it simply cements classist elements into our society. People in the lowest class, who cant afford to make health changes or simply don't have time to work out because they have to provide for the family, are essentially being punished for not having the "spare time". This is simply the legitimizing, and establishing of a class system here in the U.S. via the Health Care system!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  143. Michael Cavey

    No. Healthy people should pay less. And the fat cat CEO's should go on a compensation diet so that more of the money they collect in premiums goes to heath care.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  144. Nicole

    I believe that working people wether smokers, fat, or just plain ill, should NOT be charged more for health insurance, while individuals that do not work at all get 100% coverage. Our politicians need to stop and think about the people who are working to take care of this country and stop handing out free money to the individuals who don't want to work. What are they planning for the medicaid system, smokers and fat individuals that receive public assistance and free insurance.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  145. Iven in Oklahoma

    life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, jack....


    ...execept for those fat people and smokers. they need to be taught a lesson.

    ... is this what we want to teach our kids? instead of providing serious programs to educate,
    we should just make them pay more for their HEALTH care if they end up fat or smoke a pack
    a day?!?!?!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  146. Anita Martin

    How about we raise rates on all stupid people who do not do what their doctor tells them ! Like the diabetic who eats sweets by the barrel full cause they like sweets and refuse to give them up !i mean let's have a little common sence about this ! Love your show Jack ...

    October 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  147. Brock

    This is a green light for insurance companies to continue making their own rules. Why would they stop there? Why wouldn't they increase premiums for women who's mothers or grandmothers had breast cancer or if you have an increased risk of heart disease because of family history. This is why congressman Paul Ryan and fellow republicans love health insurance companies...more money in the end for them.

    Waunakee, WI

    October 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  148. Dan

    This post is nothing more than to anger people and get ratings.
    I run and workout quite a bit and in physical shape, but according to Body Mass Index, I'm considered obese.
    Lets just stop this nonsense and enact a law that insurers, mortgage companies and oil companies can garnish our wages.... Just take it and cut to the chase. On top of that just tell me how to live my life too.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  149. Angela University place washington

    Really do you really think the insurance companies will stop charging more and chose one of us over the other? We are all dollar signs to them without faces or names... just like they begin charging for baggage with the airlines they will never stop charging us as long as people need anything

    October 31, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  150. George

    No Jack...That`s just wrong!!!! What about those who use to be silm and later became FAT? Or never a smoker and suddenly started to smoke?... These folks just wants to get more money from other.... Dont blame it on the sunshine, dont blame it on the moonlight, dont blame it on the good times, blame it on the Economy.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  151. Brent Paine MoVagas

    Yes. For the same reason young boys pay more than girls for car insurance. The odds. Note they wouldn't pay more for health care but health care insurance.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  152. Robert

    Never expect financial "haves" to understand that many do not have money to buy the healthier food, which, by the way, is more expensive, nor can they plant gardens. Many can only afford cheap hamburgers, bologna, potatoes, mac and cheese, and cheap frozen pizzas-Especially in the South where wages are generally lower.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  153. Glen

    Health insurance companies are beginning to act more and more like banks. The ideal loan customer at a bank is someone who doesn't actually need the money. Likewise, the ideal customer for the health insurance companies are those who are perfectly healthy – and not in need of insurance. It's a slippery slope. Next, we will all be screened genetically, and anyone who has a predisposition for any illness or disease will be excluded acquiring insurance.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  154. WaynefromHouston

    Directionally people need to be responsible for their choices. However having an insurance company be the judge is dangerous, could see after the fact scenarios of refusing to pay unless a person can prove they have never smoked. Responsible people who exercise and try to enhance their health should have greatly discounted rates. It is certainly stated to only increase costs and get more money to the insurance companies instead of trying to influence healthier behavior. Cost of health care must be addressed, everyone should be required to purchase insurance. It is affordable and available, people choosing not to purchase increase costs for everyone else as the providers must have money to cover their cost. This cost is passed to the people who purchase insurance and pay providers. Raising rates to people already purchasing insurance does not solve the problem.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  155. Mr. D

    Why are we paying more and getting less? It's not about health, it's about money. Let's return to the days when we went to the doctor when we could afford it. Somehow, most of us managed to live through it.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  156. ChrisK fron Princeton, NJ currently in Germany

    This is nothing but insurance companies ripping off ignorant consumers. Health insurers in Germany have conducted studies which have shown that smokers die younger than non-smokers. Therefore, they cost LESS than non-smokers who live longer and who will suffer other costly age-related diseases. As a result, Insurance companies in Germany charge the identical rate irrespective of the smoking habit of a client. Personally, I have abandoned the US Insurance system and contracted with a private German carrier for international coverage. Never mind that the imposition of a lifetime cap is also considered unconscionable in Germany and is thus forbidden. Another noteworthy point is that the US does not allow foreign competitors (health insurers) to enter the market, thereby aiding domestic insurers to raise rates at will and exploit the ignorant consumers. This is just one more shameful proposal. I feel sorry for my fellow citizens who are not able to fight the system or extract themselves from it.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  157. Greg NY

    Jack, Where do you draw the line? Smoking? Obesity? Those that drink alcohol excessively?, those that engage in unprotected sex?, abuse prescricption drugs and painkillers? Get fat on steroids from their asthama? In a society where brand marketing has glorified unhealthy habits including smoking, video games and fast food over the years, it seems as a society we are struggling to correct these mistakes. No need to play big brother by charging people more for health insurance. This is a long term problem that will take 50 years to correct in our society and it begins in the classroom when children our young with mandatory daily courses in health and physical education. Sitting behind a desk as an adult, or behind the computer as a child is our biggest problem. Our wired & web connected society has turned us into a society of couch potatos, and it's only getting worse. I applaud the fantastic efforts of Michelle Obama in this regard as we strive to make healthier foods and exercise a part of our daily routine for children. That is the right solution, not charging people more for health insurance because they have a problem.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  158. yag

    Sure, why not, soon we will be charge for the air we breath, for eating too much, for raising your voice, for drive around and maybe for having lots of kids like china, I don't see why not, in a bad economy, we always have room for a new law, you know, we you're you're down, that is when you get attacked

    October 31, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  159. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    Sadly, yes ! Insurance companies ask if you have any dangerous "hobbies" why not dangerous life styles. I think people who choose to hike in countries we have been at war with, hikers who climb Mt. Jeopardy without a thermos of hot tea or a pack of splints, or boaters who cross the Pacific and get tossed overboard, should be charged more as well, including for the helicopters required to haul their sick bodies home. Isn't it time somebody DONE somthing about this stuff ?!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  160. Blake Le Blanc

    This is provocatively simplistic, betrays the lack of decency befouling this country, and represents why government can't leave corporations to run health care. Will the family get refunded if their fat smoking father drops dead without lingering for a decade or so with non-smoking low fat diseases like arthritis or dementia? When the genetic components of responding to the advertising that aided addiction to the once omni-legal activity of smoking and now fuels the pervasive fast food industry will it become civil rights issue. Hey – don't we export cigarettes and fast food franchises – Shhhh! I don't smoke and am about 10lbs overweight.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  161. Bob

    A couple that smokes one pack each day will spend between $3400.00 to $7300.00 a year. It's not that is it unfair but you need to be responsible. That is why we are $13 trillion in debt nobody wants to be responsible

    October 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  162. David , Laguna Niguel CA

    Jack, let's do the math, if you smoke a pack a day that adds up to $2,190 (@$6.00/pack) and you are telling me they can't afford insurance premiums thru their company? If they quit smoking they save at least the $2190 and their rates will go down, so explain to me why this is bad. Secondly fat people don't stay fat because they are starving. Fresh food is cheaper than junk food and less food costs less than more food. So eat less, eat better and your premiums will go down. Again explain to me why this is a bad thing.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  163. John from Alabama

    Jack: Discrimination is against the law. Take this case before a jury of my peers, and the business or health insurance company that charges more for overweight people will lose the case. Education is a better tactic by health care companies. Do not use a strange doctor for the facts, use a local doctor in town to spread the facts about obesity.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  164. Ralph Nelson

    As a fat person who hasn't lost a pound since August 5th, there's more to it. If you have thyroid problem...you won't lose weight. If you use too much insulin...you'll gain weight (who ever you are). Smoking yes, weight no.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  165. Jordin Sparks

    Shame on you Jack, shame on you ! Healthy foods cost two to three times as much. Sure, many would prefer to have juice and bottled water insetad of soda, organic fruits & vegetables instead of cookies and chips, and gym memberships instead of sitting behind a TV or video game console – but many just cannot afford it. The bottom line is when you combine these problems with the fact that we work too much as a society, and leave little time for physical activity and recreation , we have a big problem. Another tax on the poor and middle class in terms of a health insurance "surtax" will not fix the problem. Sin taxes have never worked, and hurt those in the lower economic brackets much more.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  166. Jeff in Minnesota

    Why not if your bad habit increases your health care costs. However, I don't think there should be a set fee.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  167. Carlos

    Yes! I think our government should ban smoking. For one its not any healthier for others that do not smoke with others that smoke around them, What good is paying health insurance, If your health is not on the healthy side. I think people are stressed out with todays world, They have/show no feelings for themselves. Here is a question for you all? How many that do smoke get a physical on a yearl basis? If smoking will not be banned, then double its price

    October 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm |