Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 20, 2022

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The lowdown...

  • While insurance companies charged higher rates or refused coverage to people with pre-existing conditions in the past, the Affordable Care Act prohibits the practice
  • The most significant factor that determines the price of your health insurance is whether you get it from an employer or the private market
  • Other factors include the state you live in, your annual income, and the type of plan you have

Before 2010, Americans with pre-existing conditions faced a lot of uncertainty about their health insurance. Companies could charge higher rates depending on medical conditions, making insurance unaffordable for many. In some cases, people would be denied coverage altogether. 

The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance providers from punishing people for having health conditions. That includes people with diabetes, asthma, and cancer. This law also applies to people that are overweight or obese.

While obesity is a pre-existing condition, health insurance providers have to offer the same rates as they would to anyone else. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about being denied coverage for a pre-existing condition.

“Can you be denied health insurance because of weight?” If this question has stopped you from looking for coverage, the Affordable Care Act guarantees you the right to buy insurance. Read on to learn more about healthcare coverage, then compare rates with insurance providers to find the best price.

Do you want to find affordable and better health insurance today? Enter your ZIP code above and compare at least three to four policies!

How does weight affect your health insurance?

Unlike life insurance, health insurance doesn’t hold a pre-existing condition against you. The factors determining your health insurance might seem complicated, but they’re usually pretty straightforward. After the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance providers cannot deny you coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

Instead, companies base their rates on the following factors:

  • Type of insurance. A huge factor in the price you’ll pay is if you obtain coverage through your employer or individually through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Employer size. Insurance rates are typically lower at large companies compared to smaller businesses.
  • State laws. Insurance laws vary by state. Some states limit how much companies charge for coverage, while others do not.
  • Income level. Low-wage employees may qualify for federal or state assistance.
  • Community. People that live in urban areas tend to pay less than those in rural ones.
  • Plan type. Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) and platinum plans are usually the most expensive options.
  • Age. Your rates increase as you get older, with the most significant increase at 55.
  • Tobacco use. Smoking causes several serious health concerns. If you’re a tobacco user, you’ll pay up to 50% more for insurance.

It might surprise you to learn that the current condition of your health doesn’t affect your rates, especially if you have serious diseases like diabetes. Although obesity is a pre-existing condition, health insurance companies can’t hold it against you.

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Why do health insurance companies care about your weight?

Although health insurance companies can’t use it against you, being overweight or obese can cause serious complications. These potential complications include:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • High cholesterol or blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Fatty liver disease

The risk for developing these conditions is why companies used to charge overweight applicants more for health insurance.

What’s considered overweight?

Although there are a lot of factors that go into determining how healthy a person is, one of the more simplistic methods is checking their body mass index (BMI).

BMI is calculated by how much you weigh compared to your height. You can find your BMI by checking a graph or using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s adult calculator.

Once you know your BMI number, you can check what range it falls into:

  • A BMI less than 18.5 is considered underweight.
  • A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy weight.
  • A BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 is considered overweight.
  • A BMI of 30 or higher falls in the obese range.

While BMI isn’t the only thing that determines what counts as a healthy weight, it is a helpful tool. However, it can be off by people with a lot of muscle mass or who are pregnant, so it’s not foolproof. It’s also less effective for children and seniors.

One last thing to keep in mind about your BMI is that it doesn’t indicate how healthy you are. You can have a high BMI and still have a perfectly healthy cardiovascular system and no other issues.

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How much does health insurance cost?

As you saw above, there are a lot of factors that go into the price of your insurance. One of the biggest factors is if you get your insurance through work or the private market.

People that have insurance through their employer pay an average of $104 for individual coverage and $501 for families per month. Of course, there’s a lot of variation in prices, and some employees can pay higher costs than the national average.

Unfortunately, you’ll pay much more for health insurance if you need to buy it on your own. Rates can vary wildly, but you can get an idea of how much you’ll pay for individual coverage by looking at the average monthly price in your state.

StateMonthly rate
Alabama$484
Alaska$552
Arizona$577
Arkansas$419
California$537
Colorado$409
Connecticut$564
Delaware$555
Florida$585
Georgia$309
Hawaii$490
Idaho$516
Illinois$556
Indiana$433
Iowa$533
Kansas$534
Kentucky$478
Louisiana$728
Maine$465
Maryland$365
Massachusetts$535
Michigan$410
Minnesota$389
Mississippi$511
Missouri$620
Montana$479
Nebraska$685
Nevada$578
New Hampshire$360
New Jersey$537
New Mexico$480
New York$713
North Carolina$634
North Dakota$524
Ohio$490
Oklahoma$635
Oregon$475
Pennsylvania$498
Rhode Island$413
South Carolina$436
South Dakota$811
Tennessee$508
Texas$575
Utah$563
Vermont$760
Virginia$512
Washington$443
West Virginia$831
Wisconsin$514
Wyoming$764
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The average health insurance rate for obese adults doesn’t change no matter how much you weigh — your weight and health don’t play a role in your rates.

While some states are more affordable, private healthcare is a hefty bill no matter what. The prices listed above are for individual coverage. If you have a family, you can easily have a monthly bill over $1,000. 

Many Americans struggle to pay for health insurance and are forced to go without it. When you need to get your insurance through the market, several government programs can help make it more affordable.

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How to Find Affordable Health Insurance

With the price of everything rising, finding insurance that will fit your budget can seem impossible. However, there are ways to lower your rates and secure vital health coverage. If you’re struggling to get insurance, try these tips:

  • Apply for cost assistance. If your income is between 100 and 400% of the federal poverty line, you may be eligible for subsidies. Subsidies go directly to the company, leaving you to pay the difference.
  • Apply for short-term insurance. Short-term insurance covers emergencies, surgeries, and hospital visits. Although short-term usually ends after a year, it’s better than nothing.
  • Consider Medicaid. If your income level is very low, you might qualify for Medicaid. People with children can also apply for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to ensure their kids have coverage.
  • Try a high deductible plan. Higher deductibles come with lower rates. While this can save you money on your monthly bill, you’ll have to pay more before insurance kicks in.

If it’s simply impossible to get insurance, you can go to a clinic or use telemedicine for your healthcare needs. Although treatments are limited, you can typically find low-cost or even free services at a clinic.

You should also make as much effort as you can to stay healthy, including keeping your weight at a healthy level. Being obese or overweight is a leading cause of illnesses that strip years off your life. 

A healthy diet and regular exercise can help keep you out of the doctor’s office. If you can afford it, regularly checking in with a doctor can help prevent a minor problem from turning into a major complication later.

Find the Best Health Insurance Rates for You

Although insurance companies are not allowed to charge you more or refuse you coverage, health insurance rates can still be confusing. From employer-sponsored coverage to a plan from the marketplace, finding the best coverage can be tricky.

If you don’t have access to employer-sponsored coverage, you can find health insurance for overweight applicants by comparing quotes with as many companies as possible. You won’t see price hikes for being overweight, but shopping around can still help you save.

Looking to save on health insurance? Start comparison shopping today by entering your ZIP code below!