Assistant Professor of Economics Conor Lennon on UofL Today with Mark Hebert

Employers aren’t penalizing obese workers with lower wages, workers who may drive up the company’s health insurance premiums. That’s the analysis of Conor Lennon, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Louisville.

During an interview on “UofL Today with Mark Hebert,” Lennon said he expected to find obese employees costing their companies much more for health care and, in return, being penalized with lower salaries. Instead, Lennon says, he was surprised to find overweight workers aren’t seeing the doctor significantly more than their thinner colleagues and their earnings are similar.

“What I found was a very small wage offset,” Lennon said.

But, Lennon says the United States’ employer-based health insurance does, rightly or wrongly, discriminate against job applicants who are obese, smoke or have health problems.

“If they (companies) have two people who can do the same job it incentivizes them to try and cherry pick the worker who is going to add less to the medical spending and add less to the health insurance costs,” Lennon said. “Economists are very interested in this.” 

Listen to the full interview: Conor Lennon on UofL Today.


Mark Hebert
Following a 28-year career as a radio and television reporter, Mark Hebert joined the University of Louisville as the Director of Media Relations in 2009, serving as the main spokesperson. In 2015, Mark was named Director of Programming and Production. He’s now producing and hosting a radio show about “all things UofL”, overseeing the university’s video and TV productions and promoting UofL’s research operation. Mark is best known for his 22 years as the political and investigative reporter for WHAS-TV in Louisville where he won numerous awards for breaking stories, exposing corruption and objectively covering Kentucky politics. In 2014, Mark was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.