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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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Erin Woulfe
Erin Woulfe
Erin Woulfe likes to write about things that matter. Keeping her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the public sector world, she blogs about the latest legislative news and employee benefit trends that affect our school, city and county clients. She’s been with NIS since 2002. “I love connecting to our clients and providing them with the tools they need in order to administrate their plan,” says Erin. “Whether that be materials to educate their employees on certain benefits, how to effectively communicate change within an organization or just providing tips and how-to’s to help them make their job easier.”

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