The relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) and health insurance costs can vary depending on the insurance company you are dealing with. It also depends on the health insurance laws of each country. In general, higher BMI may be associated with increased healthcare costs due to potential risks for certain chronic conditions.
What is BMI?
BMI correlates with body fat or adipose tissue and is used to identify normal and below or above normal weight. Their relationship varies with age and gender. Calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters (kg/m²), it provides a general indication of potential health risks associated with weight categories. However, it’s essential to view BMI as a starting point, not a definitive measure of health or body composition.
BMI Ranges and Potential Health Concerns:
Underweight (BMI below 18.5): Individuals with underweight BMI may face an increased risk of nutrient deficiencies, weakened immune function, bone loss (osteoporosis), anemia, and difficulty conceiving (fertility issues).
Normal Weight (BMI 18.5-24.9): This range generally corresponds to the lowest risk of chronic health conditions.
Overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9): People in this category may have a higher likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer.
Obese (BMI 30.0 and above): Obesity significantly increases the risk of various health issues, including those mentioned above, along with respiratory problems, joint pain, and mental health challenges.
Important Considerations Beyond BMI:
Age and Gender: Healthy BMI ranges differ slightly for different age groups and genders. For example, children and older adults often have distinct healthy BMI ranges compared to young and middle-aged adults.
Body Composition: BMI doesn’t distinguish between muscle mass and fat mass. Individuals with significant muscle mass may have a high BMI without being overweight or unhealthy.
Overall Health: BMI is just one piece of the puzzle. Individual health depends on various factors like diet, exercise habits, genetics, and medical history. Consulting a healthcare professional for personalized assessments and guidance is crucial for optimal well-being.
BMI and Health Risks
Being overweight or being obese poses significant health risks in the population. Adverse metabolic effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin resistance can occur in overweight and obese individuals. Risks of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes mellitus increase steadily with increasing BMI. Raised BMI also increases the risk of cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, endometrium, kidney and gallbladder.
High levels of overweight people and obese people are also consistently associated with increased healthcare costs. Based on estimates of the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the UK and the US, the median increase in mean total annual healthcare costs were 12% for overweight and 36% for obese individuals compared to individuals at a healthy weight. There was also evidence of progressive increases in annual healthcare costs with increasing severity of obesity. The percentage increases were greatest for medications, followed by inpatient care, and then ambulatory care. In women, the percentage increases in costs associated with obesity were higher than men.
Overweight and obesity is preventable and reversible, with the main treatment involved healthy diet, augmented by physical exercise. A healthy diet should be balanced in macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Indulging in healthy foods that are not only delicious but can also boost your energy can prep you to be involved in the exercise. Regular physical exercise enhances the efficiency of diet through an increase in the satiety or fullness from the meal and is useful for maintaining diet-induced weight loss. Playing tennis in Bangkok or walking in the park, for example, is one of many ways to turn regular exercise into an exciting activity for you to participate in.
Adopting a healthy diet and routine physical activity will enable you to lower your BMI. Although a high BMI does not automatically mean you will suffer from a health condition, the risk is significantly higher with high BMI. As your health insurance provider is committed to financially supporting your health condition, BMI will often affect your health insurance premiums. A normal and healthy BMI versus a high BMI can mean up to 50% loading on monthly premiums or in some rare cases it may even see your medical insurance application rejected.
Risk assessment is usually done when you apply for health insurance coverage. Your BMI score, as well as other risk factors, are taken into considerations. Doctors will perform more tests to determine if a high BMI is a health risk for the individual. A high BMI but low body fat percentage can be the case among athletes with bulky muscle mass. While low BMI among the elderly may indicate higher health risk as it’s associated with fragility.
Get a Health Insurance Quote
Most importantly, understand your insurance options and factors affecting it. Make sure you declare your medical conditions and ask the right questions to ensure you understand the coverage before you buy. Most private health insurance policies are designed to cover new medical conditions that occur after your insurance policy goes into effect. While pre-existing conditions are exempted from coverage. Contact our consultants today to get a quote for our comprehensive health insurance.