Attitudes harden against smokers and the obese

Nov 16 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

As healthcare costs rocket for both employers and employees in the U.S, a new poll has signalled attitudes may be hardening among workers over who should pay more or less for health cover.

Most Americans think people who smoke should pay more for their health insurance, according to the poll by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

The study of 1,500 people found that 60 per cent believed smokers should pay more for health insurance, while a further 29 per cent said the obese should also pay more.

Yet just 12 per cent believed it was appropriate for people with family histories of heart disease or cancer to pay more.

Most Americans supported employers expanding health coverage (88 per cent) or the government providing coverage to all (61 per cent), even though the two solutions were contradictory, said the NOPC.

The findings, published in the journal Health Affairs, supported past opinion polls suggesting Americans were unsure how to finance healthcare improvements for their ageing workforce.

Currently, the poll suggested, there are some 46 million uninsured people in the U.S Ė asked whether Americans should be required to have basic health insurance, more than half (52 per cent) agreed.