The Smokers’ Surcharge


More and more employers are demanding that workers who smoke, are overweight or have high cholesterol shoulder a greater share of their health care costs, a shift toward penalizing employees with unhealthy lifestyles rather than rewarding good habits.

Policies that impose financial penalties on employees have doubled in the last two years to 19 percent of 248 major American employers recently surveyed. Next year, Towers Watson, the benefits consultant that conducted the survey, said the practice — among employers with at least 1,000 workers — was expected to double again.

In addition, another survey released on Wednesday by Mercer, which advises companies, showed that about a third of employers with 500 or more workers were trying to coax them into wellness programs by offering financial incentives, like discounts on their insurance. So far, companies including Home Depot, PepsiCo, Safeway, Lowe’s and General Mills have defended decisions to seek higher premiums from some workers, like Wal-Mart’s recent addition of a $2,000-a-year surcharge for some smokers. Many point to the higher health care costs associated with smoking or obesity. Some even describe the charges and discounts as a “more stick, less carrot” approach to get workers to take more responsibility for their well-being. No matter the characterizations, it means that smokers and others pay more than co-workers who meet a company’s health goals.

Post Continues on

  • Rick

    Lets be fair, if smokers pay more then fat people pay lots more and what about the fast drivers? Or those that lack common semse? Stupid people should pay more for no other reason than for being stupid, right? Oh and lets not forget those that already have some illness !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I guess you have to give drunks a discount, they never seem to get hurt in bad car wrecks.

    • Tom

      What about faggots using their bodies in inappropriate ways that lead to disease.

      • R. Ruffenready

        You just suck another phallic object. Same difference.

  • Texan

    Good observation Doug!

  • Dave Langdon

    The govt is so corrypt that just like traffic tickets the govt can not ban tobacco for fear of losing the tax base, no matter how harmful it is to the public. Will the Obama Basketball Classic be sponsored by RJ Reynolds?

    • USAF VET

      Nope, because Federal Law prohibits it.

  • Doug

    Interesting to read the choice of freedom being up for bid! Fat people must stop eating so much or pay more for their insurances, smokers we knew this was coming…since Our Tax Dollars are now paying for TV Ad’s of people with Gas Mask on…while one woman smoke’s. In China and soon here in America…it will be the law that each family have only one child…or they must share their one bowl of rich between them!!! But based on comments already made…”Maybe that will get people from having so many babies”?? Every time we give up a right “or the Pursuit of someone’s happiness…that is a lost right and we’ll never get it back…Like not allowing prayers in schools, or using the lords name, or any number of other rights we give up for the so implied good for someone else’s right! If we all have Rights without consideration….None of us have Rights!! In God I’ll Trust!

    • June

      Indeed- – In God I will trust and since no one bothers to check “world census” reports, it seems worldwide population is “shrinking”. Guess there is one exception – -it is reported that muslim “couples” produce an average of 8 children per couple and most of those guys have “several wives”! It’s also reported the average Canadian and British couple has 1.2 children and the average American couple has 1.3 children! Don’t ask me how they come up with .2 and .3 children?? And does that leave any question in your mind about “how” islam plans to “take over the world”??

  • Guest

    When are the goingto start penalizing alcoholics and drug abusers?

    • GG

      Won’t happen. Too many congressmen love their alcohol and drugs!!!

      • Jstarusa

        When they first started the taxing of cigarettes, I thought this would go further and further. I was right. Less freedom of choice now than before.If government gets their foot in the door, they will kick it open! Now more penalties put on the smoker because it is easy to do so…

    • GG

      Never happen-too many congressmen, businessmen, CEOs love their alcohol and drugs!!

  • Lipstick

    Get off our backs.

  • Dee

    Good idea, maybe it will convince them to stop smoking.

    • Jstarusa

      Maybe, but it should be by choice not by penalty !