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Healthcare reform may affect employees who smoke

The recently upheld Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act healthcare reform law may have an impact on the way employers select workers in the future. Because health insurance must be provided to employees, no matter how high-risk they are, job applicants who engage in unhealthy lifestyles may appear less attractive to employers. Many states have made the practice of penalizing workers who smoke illegal.

Law.com reported under certain group health insurance plans providers can charge up to 50 percent more for coverage of smoker participants, making the group policy less affordable for employers. Because smoking, or other unhealthy habits such as obesity, can have a significant effect on the overall health and wellness of the employee, many employers are considering adjusting their hiring practices or investing in wellness operations to improve staff insurability levels. 

Many cities and some states have gone so far as to ban smoking in public areas to further encourage people to quit smoking, and employers are no exception to using force to promote healthy choices. In Indiana, for example, many employers are opting to charge employees who smoke higher rates for their health insurance coverage, despite backlash from labor union leaders. In response to the practices, the AFL-CIO has warned employers against punishing employees who smoke, as the act will destroy the concept of group health insurance coverage by singling a few participants, Live Insurance News reported.

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Carolyn Wonders
Carolyn Wonders
In a world of constant interruption, regular onslaught of emails and ever increasing bids for our attention, schools, cities and counties are finding it harder than ever to connect with employees. That’s when we call in Carolyn Wonders. Carolyn heads up NIS’ Marketing Team, who creates and executes employee benefit communications for NIS’ growing list of clients.

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