More than one-third of British adults believe that a person’s healthcare treatment should be affected by whether their lifestyle is healthy or unhealthy, according to latest research.
A poll by healthcare provider Benenden Healthcare Society found that 29% of people believed that those who lead healthier lives should receive priority treatment over those with less healthy lifestyles.
Half of those aged over 65 said that people’s lifestyles should affect the healthcare they receive, against 22% of 18- to 24-year-olds.
One-third felt that people who lead unhealthy lives should pay a premium, or top-up fee, to receive treatment on the NHS.
The two groups who favoured an “unhealthy premium” were those aged 25 to 34 and those aged over 65. Conversely, 37% of those questioned said people who live healthy lifestyles, and used the NHS less as a result, should be offered tax rebates.
This concept was most popular with those aged 25 to 34, of whom nearly half agreed, compared with 30% of the over-55s.
The appeal of tax rebates varied between regions, with 45% in London backing it, against 26% in eastern England.
When asked about smoking, 39% of people felt non-smokers should have priority over smokers when being treated for conditions such as heart disease or cancer, rising to half of the 18- to 24-year-old age group.
Such a system could increasingly penalise UK workers who are unhealthy or unwilling to take responsibility for their health, separate research has argued.
A survey by insurer Scottish Widows has suggested that 45% of Britons admit to neglecting their fitness, with, more positively – more than one-third worried about neglecting their health than anything else.
One in 10 said that the one thing they wanted more time for in their lives was exercise and achieving a healthy lifestyle.
Of those who did not spend enough time keeping fit and healthy, 39% admitted that this was because they were simply not worried enough about their health, while a quarter always put their family’s health needs over their own.
A further 23% said that they would only start to pay attention to the health of their body if they got seriously ill.
Nearly four out of 10 claimed simply not to have enough time to exercise regularly, 30% said they did not enjoy it and almost one-fifth said that money was too tight to afford gym membership.