Did you just find out your insurance policies at work will factor in your lifestyle when considering the cost of your premium? Thinking about giving up smoking and maybe dropping a few pounds? Now might be a good time as many workplaces are increasing premiums for employees who use tobacco and may provide incentives for those who live a healthier lifestyle.
In 2012, companies that offered financial incentives to their employees who live a healthier lifestyle rose 7 percent over the previous year. The penalties also rose, although not as much. Last year only 4 percent of the employers attached the incentives to “biometric outcomes” like a healthy body mass index, lower blood pressure or lower cholesterol. This year it was over 25 percent of employers. It it difficult for companies to penalize employees for family health issues, but one area where companies are rewarding or penalizing employees is in the area of tobacco use.
“Smokers consume 25 percent more healthcare services than non-smokers,” according to a spokesman for Wal-Mart. Offering free cessation programs to tobacco users saves companies money in their health care costs. Those employees who are tobacco free may also receive a monetary reward. Those who continue to use tobacco may face penalties in the form of higher insurance premiums each month.
What does this mean to you, especially if you are still in school? Almost 90 percent of tobacco users start before they are age 18, almost 1.5 million youth a year, according to the 2012 Surgeon General’s report. Tobacco is immediately damaging to your health, highly addictive, and difficult to quit. And as you get older and look for employment, your tobacco use may play a factor in the type of job you can get, whether you are hired or not, and even how much extra you will pay in insurance costs.
Weighing all the factors before you start tobacco can save you in the end.
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