Smoking is already an expensive habit, but for millions of American smokers, smoking cigarettes is about to cost them thousands more. A new health law allows individual and private insurers to charge smokers up to 50% higher premiums starting next year. Even smokers at large (100+ employee) corporations may find themselves paying higher rates for their nicotine consumption. Larger companies can force higher insurance rates from employees, but only if the raise is part of a wellness program aimed at helping smokers quit. For all other smoking employees, however, their rates can and will rise without them being offered a program to help quit smoking.
In an ongoing battle to fight illness and death at the workplace, over half of large companies have already instituted some sort of wellness program at their company. These programs aim to keep employees fit and healthy for their own wellbeing, as well as to avoid ill employees costing the company time and money. Of these already-established programs, over 75% of them offered some sort of support for those looking to quit smoking.
Considering that most employees with private or small group insurance policies likely do not have access to company-sponsored wellness programs, it seems unfair that they will not receive help in quitting smoking along with their newly-raised insurance premiums. If anything, it is these smoking employees that could benefit most from an insurance-sponsored program to help them quit smoking. Those that declined the program would then be more justified in having to pay higher fees.
Smokers across the nation will no doubt be unhappy to see their premiums rise next year for seemingly no reason. Smokers already pay for their habit, and this rate increase means smokers could soon pay thousands more a year. To be fair, insurance companies are a business, and smokers statistically die and grow ill faster than non-smokers. Insurance companies need smokers to pay these premiums not because of a moral decision, but because of a financial reality.
But still, some free stop-smoking gum would be nice. Apparently that stuff tastes terrible, but I’d be all over it if I could get it for free instead of paying sixty dollars for like four pieces.