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Smokers Get Help Quitting But Pay Higher Premiums


How does a company help their employees quit smoking? Would you allow them to raise your insurance premium to help them?

It seems the workplace is already answering the question because a large portion of companies do offer this health benefit to their employees. The Washington Post reports, many of these companies have created a two-tier approach in assisting smokers wanting to quit.

The first level of assistance is to continually help employees quit smoking through programs, counseling methods and access to doctors and medications. The second part of this benefit includes higher insurance premiums for employees who still smoke, which serves as both a deterrent and financial punishment.

In a 2011 survey sponsored by health plans by human resources consultant Mercer, 24 percent of the companies with 20,000 employees or more, charged its employees higher premiums for continuing to smoke. In addition, 12 percent of the companies with 500 or more employees penalized smokers who weren’t able to be victorious over their nicotine habit.

Proponents for public health generally do not agree with this tough love approach, as many believe a strong focus should be applied to the chemical addiction, rather than the smoker choosing to quit. However, the employers view smoking simply as a dollars and cents issue.

With the costs of health care increasing, and the cost of medical treatment for smokers being even higher, companies are putting the cost responsibilities on those who are creating higher expenses.

Cigarette smoking is considered the most preventable cause of death, but the statistics suggest -that many smokers still aren’t getting the message. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 443,000 deaths are caused by cigarette smoke, and a shocking 269,655 of these deaths are among men.

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