Health care costs are higher for you and your insurance company if you engage in risky behavior– and they now have the proof to back this up. A study in the June 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine of more than 43,000 members of the Arkansas State and Public School Employees Health Plan found that health care costs are higher for those who report they are obese, are smokers or are physically inactive
Lead author Rhonda Hill, a prevention specialist with the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement in Little Rock, acknowledged the results were expected but that they demonstrated personal health habits were a big indicator of costs.
The increase in cost annually was 13 percent higher for smokers, 45 percent higher for those who were obese, and 33 percent higher for the inactive population. The annual increase was 75 percent higher for those who were both obese and inactive. Those who said they had all three risks had 86 percent higher annual costs on average than those with no behavioral risks.
Self-identified participants with high risk had an average annual health care cost of $4,432; those who did not engage in risky health behaviors had an annual average cost of $2,382. Those aged 55 to 64 who engaged in three categories of risky behavior doubled their costs compared to those in the same age group without.
We’d love to see more rewards given to patients who don’t come in with any behavioral risks – think of the incentives and the funds that could be saved if you could partially reward patients and healthcare providers too!