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Do All Health Insurance Companies Use BMI to Calculate Rates?
Old 06-09-2008, 04:38 PM   #1
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Do All Health Insurance Companies Use BMI to Calculate Rates?

I'm not particularly close to retiring yet, but when my wife and I do pull the trigger, we'll need to find private health insurance until we qualify for Medicare. When we bought term life insurance recently, my rate was almost double hers, due to a BMI of >30. According to the charts, a good healthy BMI for me of 22.5 would have me weighing 180lbs at 6'3". I haven't weighed 180lbs since I was 13 or 14 years old. I was ~215 when I graduated high school as a skinny 17-year-old.

I definitely need to lose some weight, but with my frame being what it is, it's unlikely that I'll get my BMI below 27.5 in this lifetime (that would have me at 220lbs). Will insurance companies use body-fat % or some other measure to calculate a fair rate for people who don't "fit" the normal height/frame for BMI?
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:20 PM   #2
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Where is MyKids when we actually need a health insurance broker to answer a question?

I was recently surprised to find a decent health policy in DC with no medical, no waver of pre-existing conditions, and all comers accepted. My daughter goes off my group policy this month when she hits 22 and finishes school. I don't want her without health insurance for any period of time since if she got a catastrophic illness I would feel compelled to make sure she got good medical care and could go broke in the process. She has some current stuff going on that caused Blue Cross to deny her coverage under an "underwritten policy" whatever that is. They advised us that the DC Government negotiated an "open enrollment" policy with BC/BS that covers her for about the same price. The monthly rates peak at age 63 and remain the same thereafter: $588 individual, $1,175 couple. That is an 20% co-pay policy with a max of $3,500 out of pocket. For a 22 YO it is $146/mth. I thought the old folks would be more.
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Old 06-11-2008, 12:56 AM   #3
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Thanks Don. Is the plan you mentioned only for DC residents?
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Old 06-11-2008, 06:45 AM   #4
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Thanks Don. Is the plan you mentioned only for DC residents?
Yes, but the representative I talked to about it said other jurisdictions may have something similar. I couldn't find any information about it on their web site and could not apply online like you can for other plans. I had to rewuest that they mail me an application. You could try calling your local BC/BS and asking about "open enrollment" plans. Try other carriers as well, these may be more common than I thought.
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:28 AM   #5
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I wonder whether my insurance company got the results from my physical last year, and whether my rates going forward will be different as a result. Back in 2003, I had borderline high blood pressure and my corporate-paid insurance company demanded that I start taking drugs or they'd drop my coverage. I weighed 180 lbs (at 6'2", that's a BMI of 23 - right in the middle of the weight range that the CDC considers 'healthy' - 18.5 to 25). Instead of taking drugs, I wondered what it would be like to have a BMI at very low end of the 'healthy' range, so during the first 5 months of 2004 I dropped to 150 lbs (BMI=19). The difference was (and is) incredible: enormous increase in overall energy level/alertness, sleeping much less (5-6 hours per night, instead of 7-8 ), blood pressure 115/80 instead of 140/90, etc. I can't recommend a calorie-restricted diet enough!

I suspect that there are additional positive long-term health consequences with BMI=19, but I won't go into these conjectures in this post. I'd like to negotiate a reduced rate with my insurance co based on my reduced weight, but I don't think they'd go for it. Maybe someday :confused:
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Old 06-11-2008, 12:09 PM   #6
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I think they generally do use BMI as a significant factor, but if you showed some evidence of more thorough tests which showed a normalish body fat percentage, you might be able to override it and get more preferred rates.

San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson is "obese" according to BMI standards (5'10" and 221), but I doubt that his body fat composition is very high...
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:53 AM   #7
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San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson is "obese" according to BMI standards (5'10" and 221), but I doubt that his body fat composition is very high...
Yup, I've heard that the BMI scale shouldn't be used for professional athletes since they have more muscle mass which tends to weigh more. According to the BMI scale, Lance Armstrong was considered obese when he won the Tour de France! That's crazy talk...
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