I have tried to get my wife to quit smoking for years, but it’s hopeless. She quits for a while and then picks it back up again. Now my employer plan wants to charge me more because she smokes. Is that legal?
Married To an Ashtray
Dear Married to an Ashtray,
Yes, this is perfectly legal. Health reform allows insurers to charge tobacco users up to 50 percent more than non-tobacco users. Employers can pass these rates through to the employees. In addition, employers can reward non-smoker members through a wellness program. Members who smoke and do not do any other wellness activity can be charged up to 30 percent more.
Getting her to stop smoking might have a big payoff, in other words. If your plan has surcharges for smokers, it also has a stop-smoking benefit. It would probably cover counseling, medications, and patches.
Encourage her to try quitting again.