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Smokers

Most Americans agree smokers should pay more for health insurance

Thursday, November 16, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: smokers, health insurance, obesity

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(NewsTarget) A new survey published this week indicates that most Americans believe smokers and the obese should pay more for health insurance. However, those surveyed were unsure how to assist the millions of citizens who currently have no health insurance.

More than 1,500 people were surveyed for the study, and of that number, 80 percent believe that the health care system in the U.S. needs to be fixed. It is estimated that approximately 46 million Americans currently have no health insurance. The study also indicated that 60 percent of those surveyed indicated favoring higher insurance premiums for smokers while 30 percent favored higher premiums for the obese.

The report stated "When it comes to personal responsibility, consumers increasingly support making people pay more for unhealthy behavior." The survey was released a week after Democrats -- who are generally in favor of more government intervention into the lives of uninsured citizens -- won control of both houses of the U.S. Congress.

The health insurance industry unexpectedly began to support a plan for universal health insurance for American citizens earlier this week. With nearly 16 percent of Americans now uninsured, the rate has been rising for years as prices for prescription drugs and hospital care have escalated.

Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, said that about 20 percent of large employers already give insurance discounts to non-smoking workers, and that this stance is rapidly growing in popularity -- with Darling indicating that it will continue to grow faster.

Darling added that, in regards to obesity, "I think it will be a while before we get to the point where people begin tying a financial discount to something like BMI (body mass index)." When asked about the government's role in a type of universal health insurance, Darling added that "Our view is that it has to be shared responsibility; the government is going to have to pay" with the other half of the responsibility going to taxpayers, according to Darling.

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