Health has gained prominence in the past few years due to everyone’s hectic and stressful lives, wherein lack of exercise has become the norm. Urban masses, especially, are making unhealthy lifestyle choices daily and this is slowly, but certainly, taking its toll on their health. This is why health insurance has become an important aspect of our lives today.

Most individuals, thus, purchase health insurance to pay for hospitalization or medical expenses in the future. Insurance companies decide the amount of premium that needs to be paid towards insurance. The factors that affect your premium towards health insurance are:

1. Pre-existing medical conditions: You will need to provide your own health records to prove you don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions. However, if you do have any pre -existing conditions, then the company can choose to allow it in their policies or can even decide not to cover it. If, though, the insurance company cannot cover it under the health insurance, then you will need to bear the costs, thereby increasing your premium amount.

2. Family medical history: If your family has certain medical ailments, then your health insurance premiums may be higher than others, because illnesses can be genetic as well. Hence, if your family has a medical history of illnesses such as heart diseases, cancer or any other, then that puts you at a risk and it increases your premium amount.

3. Body Mass Index (BMI): People with high BMI have to pay a significantly higher premium than people with normal BMI. BMI is a useful measure of overweight and obesity. It is calculated from your height and weight. BMI is an estimate of body fat and a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers. Thus, a higher BMI indicates chances of various aforementioned ailments. People with higher BMI may even need specialized treatment, for normal procedures like pregnancy.

4. Use of harmful substances: Most insurance companies increase their premium amounts and at times even refuse to insure people who have the habit of smoking, chewing tobacco or snuff. This is because these products are harmful for your health and make you prone to getting life threatening diseases like cancer.

5. Gender: Many policies have different premium rates for men and women. Experts says the reasons for this are: women are more likely to visit doctors; they take their prescriptions and may be subject to chronic diseases.

6. Age: Most young individuals have lower premium amount vis-a-vis mid-aged or people in their 40s or 50s. This is because young policyholders are less likely to have health problems and are more likely not to visit a doctor.

7. Occupation: If a policyholder works in an environment with hazardous substances or chemicals; is exposed to radiation; or has a high risk of injuries like in civil construction, then he/she will have to end up paying higher premium vis-à-vis a policyholder who has a sedentary job.

8. Marital status: It hasn’t been proven yet if married people live longer and healthier lives, but the insurance premiums are relatively lower than for other unmarried individuals.

9. No insurance yet: If you’ve never taken an insurance before, then insurance companies are likely to charge you a higher rate of premium. This is because insurance companies believe that previously uninsured individuals are likely to make frequent trips to doctors and hospitals to start reaping benefits of the health insurance policy. Therefore, they increase the premium rates to cover all expenses.

10. Your location of stay: A number of insurance companies base their premiums on the place where the policyholder stays. Many companies charge higher premiums for individuals who share the same climate, lack healthy food options, have aversion or lack of motivation towards exercise, etc.

Other than the aforementioned factors, premiums may also vary depending upon factors like age, location and prevailing taxes, etc.