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.