Difference Between Health Insurance Premium For Smokers And Non-Smokers

4 min read

Suraj is a chain smoker and he has been smoking for over 6-7 years now. Recently he was looking for a health insurance policy to cover him for emergency medical needs. He checked with lot many insurance providers and found out that he has to pay a higher rate of premium for the same policies that his friends are using at a lower premium rate. He enquired further and it turned out that because of his smoking habit, the insurance companies are asking for higher rate of premium from him, while his non-smoking friends are paying much lower premium amount for similar policies.

It is important for everyone to lead a healthy lifestyle by following a healthy routine to protect your health better against diseases. Smoking is a bad habit and it is harmful for the human body.

In insurance, people with past history of critical diseases and toxic habits like smoking tobacco, consumption of alcohol, or using drugs are charged with higher premium amount for their health insurance policies as compared to health insurance premium for non smokers. This is because these critical diseases and unhealthy habits lead to medical conditions that cost more money in treatments as compared to treatment of non-smokers. Thus, such factors affect your insurance plan premium.

Also Read: Health Insurance Portability

Criteria of a smoker as per health insurance companies

Normally, a person is tagged as a smoker who consumes tobacco, cigar, cigarette, nicotine etc. In case of health insurance companies, they enquire a person about his/her habits of smoking and accordingly perform a pre-medical health checkup. On the basis of this check-up, a person is classified into 4 diverse categories. These categories are namely:

  • Category of Non-smokers
  • Category of Preferred smokers
  • Category of Typical smokers, and
  • Category of Table rate smokers

This way the insurance companies decide the health insurance premium for smokers as per the set categories. In terms of premium rate, the smokers who fall under the Table rate category are likely to pay the maximum premium. The typical and preferred category smokers can have some respite because they have lesser risk of getting smoking related diseases.

Are smokers allowed to get a health insurance?

Of course, smokers are allowed to get a health insurance policy. But a smoker has to pay higher premium on his/her policy as most insurance companies levy high premium rates on smokers. Be it any policy, the premium paid by smokers automatically increases as compared to non-smoking insurance policy owners. However, it entirely depends on the insurance company as to how much premium they want to levy on a smoker. In addition, the category of smoker that you are categorized into also decides the premium you are likely to pay.

Despite the premium rate, you should not be discouraged from getting an insurance policy for yourself as it is very important and can aid you in case of a medical emergency.

Can a smoker hide his smoking habits from an insurance provider?

There are strict legal action levied on the policy owner who lies about his/her habit of smoking. Thus, hiding about your smoking habit is not a good idea.  In case of an emergency, if smokers get hospitalized for a treatment related to their smoking condition, the insurance company will not provide compensation for their claims.  Also, the insured person (smoker) has to pay for the entire amount of the compensation from his/her pocket. Thus, it is best not hide your smoking habits while buying an insurance and reveal everything to the insurer.

However, in case a smoker decides to quit smoking to enjoy lower premium on insurance policy, then in that condition he/she has to quit smoking for minimum 2 years to be categorized as a non-smoker.

Also Read: Individual Health Insurance Plans

Reason for high premium rates for smokers

Here are some common reasons for high premium rates for smokers:

  • Smoking is injurious to health as it can cause several chronic diseases.
  • Smokers are likely to have diseases of the heart, lung, bronchitis and so on.
  • Smokers are also likely to contract risky diseases.
  • Smokers are likely to have a lower life-expectancy ratio than the non-smokers.
  • The treatment costs of the various disorders in case of smokers is high, so the premium levied on smokers is also high.
  • Unlike non-smokers, smokers are likely to claim their policy before a particular age.
  • Premium amount depends on the insurance company. They differ as per the health condition of the customer.

Conclusion

Smoking is one of the most harmful habits that can lead to many serious health issues. Thus, smokers are expected to pay more premium as they are at greater risk of having many acute diseases. So, the yardstick of offering insurance policies to smokers differs as per the insurance companies. Here, the pre-medical test performed on individual consumer helps the insurance company to evaluate the health condition of a smoker and they set the premium as per the medical test results. However, if an insurance owner lies about their habit of smoking, they can be legally punished. Also, in that case the claim for hospitalization caused due to smoking will also not be paid by the insurance company.

Thus, it is better to refrain from unhealthy habits. Practice of alcohol consumption and nicotine smoking enhances the risk of getting chronic diseases as well as creates an unhealthy environment for others, including family members of smokers. Moreover, there is huge difference between health insurance premium for smokers and non smokers.

Thus, it is wise for an insured persons to run through the policy documents of the insurance plan carefully to ensure that your requirements are included. However, as per the policies of the insurance company, the terms and conditions of the clause for smokers might differ. So, it is better to consult well with the insurance agent while planning to buy a health insurance policy.

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Gayatri Prabhu, Head-Digital Business at Mahindra Insurance Brokers Limited (MIBL) is one those few digital leaders who has the width and depth that is required to execute an ROI driven holistic digital strategy. She cuts through the noise, identifies the critical levers and leads her team to successful execution of the defined strategy. Her core mantra to win new and retain existing customers is: understand the consumer behavior and craft experiences around it.

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