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Dealing with health insurance premium penalties

If you get your health insurance through your job, more and more companies are telling their workers they have to pay a larger share of their health insurance premiums if they are overweight or they smoke.

But penalizing employees is controversial, as financial contributor Carmen Wong Ulrich explained on "The Early Show."

The trend of penalizing unhealthy employees with higher premiums has been increasing: In 2009 only 8% of companies did this; in 2011 it went up to 19%, and up to 38% of companies will implement these types of policies by the end of next year.

But Wong Ulrich pointed out that while obese or smoking employees do incur higher health care costs, there is concern about discrimination. For example, many people think being overweight is about behavior, but sometimes it isn't. If that's the case and you can't do anything about your weight, she says get a doctor to advocate for you.

But there are not just penalties - there are also rewards and incentives, such as reimbursements and lower premiums if you join a gym.

To hear more about health care premium penalties and rewards, check out the video below:

What do you think? Should companies raise health care premiums on overweight or smoking employees? Share your comments below.

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