Can my health insurer discriminate against smokers?

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Can my health insurer discriminate against smokers?

My company health insurance is going to charge an additional $260 year for smokers. I am 31 and in perfect physical condition. I have never taken a sick day in the 2 years I have worked at my current employer. I exercise more than 90% of the people that I work with. I rarely use my insurance at all. They have no charges for people who are overweight, and no qualifications for drug users. My company is self-insured. Can this really be legal?

Asked on January 9, 2012 under Insurance Law, Washington

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In the private business sector with respect to insurance premiums and coverage, an insurance carrier has the right to charge smokers under its issued policies an additional amount per year. The reason is that medical evidence for years has shown major health risks that smokers have compared to non-smokers.

Due to such risks, smokers have greater chances of expensive health issues compared to non-smokers. As a result, the health insurance industry allocates a higher premium to smokers compared to non-smokers which is entirely proper.

This is apparently the practice of your company's health insurance carrier. There is nothing wrong with what it charges between smokers and non-smokers.


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