Poll: Workers Support Higher Insurance Premiums For Unhealthy Colleagues

A new workplace poll from Zogby Analytics for The Marlin Co. Workplace shows workers are in favor of higher insurance premiums being charged for employees with unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking or overeating.

A significant percentage of American workers, 41 percent, say it would be OK with them if the company charged more in individual health insurance premiums if the employee has an unhealthy habit.

The findings, in a new national telephone poll done by Zogby Analytics for The Marlin Co., a Wallingford, Conn., employee communications company, come as companies begin to offer employee incentives for good health and even institute penalties or charge higher premiums for those with such conditions as high blood pressure and obesity. The telephone poll of 751 American workers, conducted in June and July 2013, had a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points.

“Considering that 69 percent of Americans are overweight and 19 percent smoke, having 41 percent agree with charging higher premiums shows that they like the incentive-based system,” said Frank Kenna III, president of The Marlin Co., in a prepared statement. “After all, we know that if we get in an accident, our car insurance rates will go up. Why shouldn’t the same principle apply to healthcare premiums? And an added bonus may be that workers with unhealthy habits could very well find the motivation to take much better care of themselves.”

The poll also showed that while 80 percent of workers said they believe their company cares if they are healthy, 29 percent said their company does not take the initiative to educate their employees about health and wellness. And 19 percent said that they or their family were holding off going to the doctor to treat aches or pains or other illness because of the cost.

Among other findings:

Twenty-seven (27) percent said they would consider leaving their job if another employer offered equal or lower pay but better health benefits, especially those who are single and young. These included 52 percent of those who are single, 18 percent of married people and 16 percent of those who are divorced, widowed or separated. Also among them were 57 percent of those who are 18 to 24 years old, 19 percent of those 30 to 49, 21 percent of those 50 to 64, and 16 percent of those 65 and older.

Those who said they are holding off going to the doctor to treat aches or pains or other illnesses because of the cost included 16 percent of those with medical benefits and 27 percent of those without.

People who work for mid-sized companies (101 to 1,000 employees) were most likely to say that it would be OK with them if their company charged more in individual health premiums for workers with unhealthy habits – 49 percent. This compared with 40 percent of those who work in companies with 1 to 100 employees and 34 percent of those in companies with more than 1,000 employees.

Results among those who said their company takes the initiative to educate employees about health and wellness rises by company size: 62 percent of those who work for companies with 1 to 100 employees, 82 percent of those with 101 to 1,000 employees, and 88 percent of those with more than 1,000 employees say they have such programs.

72 percent of respondents said that they were covered by medical benefits at work; 27 percent said that they were not.

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