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How Your Weight (BMI) Affects Your Health Plan Rates

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness for people. It does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that it correlates to direct measures of fatty tissue. It can also be considered an alternative for direct measures and calculations.

Additionally, it is an inexpensive and easy-to-perform method of screening for weight categories that could possibly lead to health problems. Another popular measuring statistic is the WC (Waist Circumference). However, since there is often a discordance between the two values, often, the WC figures are not utilized.

Of course, the BMI can be very subjective, and in fact, each health insurance company interprets the figures in a different way. Some Ohio carriers tend to be a bit more “forgiving” than others. And of course, a few companies have very strict guidelines, especially if you are taking multiple medications. One of our tasks, as a field underwriter and broker, is to determine which companies provide the best chance to offer their best rate.

Different Risks

For example, a 5-9 male weighing 201 pounds is considered a “preferred” risk with Anthem. Yet, according to the BMI Index, this same person is just two pounds away from being considered “obese.” UnitedHealthcare will assign a “standard” risk classification to the same person. Most Ohio health insurance companies have multiple levels of establishing the rate, and of course, weight is not the only criteria used.

Unlike life insurance underwriting, which often has many as 5-10 different rate classes, most major companies have a few, and sometimes as many as five. Of course, here in the Buckeye state, Medical Mutual has the most risk classifications of any carrier. At last check, it was about 12. Anthem and Humana also have several pricing tiers.

Height, Weight, And Health Insurance

Don’t Eat Too Many Of These!

Knowing your own BMI is also important to your health. For instance, if your number is above 35, and you are diabetic, many physicians feel bariatric surgery should be considered for immediate medical concerns and also increasing life expectancy. But as your weight increases, the effectiveness of this type of surgery will decline.

A Broker’s Job

As an Ohio broker, part of my job is to take into consideration the BMI of the applicant (along with other factors), and determine which carrier can offer the best coverage at the most competitive price. Whether it””s catastrophic, comprehensive or HSA coverage, each situation is different, and I try to take ample time to research which plan(s) are the best choice.

To determine BMI, there are many online sites that will allow you to perform the simple calculation. Our favorite is the National, Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute which will provide a free quick calculation along with many other healthy weight tools, such as menu plan and portion distortion. There are also several reputable government resources that will calculate your index.

For additional information on Ohio health insurance plans or obtaining a quote, please click on the “Get Instant Quote” button at the top of the page. Or…feel free to speak to a live person by contacting us.


February 4 2015 – Your BMI is no longer considered when you apply for qualified health insurance during Open Enrollment (or an SEP period). However, temporary plans are underwritten and may ask medical questions, including your height and weight. Most non-compliant plans may also request height/weight information.

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