Can my employer charge me an extra $260 on health insurance because i smoke? They don’t charge extra for people who drink.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 5, 2012

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Insurance Question from Everett, MA

Asked on 02/05/2012

Can my employer charge me an extra $260 on health insurance because i smoke? They don’t charge extra for people who drink. NULL

Answer given on February 06, 2012

More and more corporations are moving towards a health based insurance where employees are rated on their overall health and accessed health insurance premiums based on this rating.  Therefore a person that is overweight and smokes may pay more than a person that maintains a healthier weight and who has no history of smoking. There is no shortage of data that points to the health risk of being over weight and being a smoker.  Therefore, insurance companies charge more for these individuals.  Corporations are starting to defray the cost of these premiums by making the higher risk employee pay more.  The thought is, if it hits your pocket book, you will make the lifestyle adjustment and therefore, have less claims costing your employer less in the long run. There are probably questions on your heath application about drinking such as “how many drinks do you consume in a day/week?”  However, this question can not be verified by a test unlike a smoking test that can verify the present of nicotine. I am sure that if a person stated they were drinking more than 5 drinks in a day, they would be charge higher premiums as well.  But who would?  At the end of the day, striving for healthier living by eating right, maintain a healthier weight and quitting smoking is the only way to drive down health premiums.     

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