The Herald Bulletin

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May 6, 2013

ISU may charge tobacco users more for insurance



"I understand this may seem intrusive to some, but really it is probably where we are headed as a country," McKee said.

The voluntary screenings could help an employee identify a serious health concern that could be addressed with preventive measures or medication.

She also noted that ISU is the only one of the four major residential institutions in the state that does not have some sort of surcharge or rate differential for those that use tobacco products.

Under the recommendations, those who use tobacco products would pay a surcharge of $50 per pay based on 24 pay periods, or $100 per bay based on 12 pay periods. ISU also would launch a tobacco cessation reimbursement program to aide faculty and staff in their attempt to quit.

The CDC estimates that the economic costs of smoking are $3,391 per smoker per year in direct medical costs and lost productivity.

Trustee Ed Pease asked how the university would identify those who smoke versus those who don't. Some institutions ask employees to sign an affidavit indicating they do not use tobacco products, and that is what ISU would do, McKee said.

There are tests that can determine if a person uses tobacco, she said.

Health insurance base rates for 2014 will not be known until early fall 2013.

Through the proposals, "We're trying to better educate employees as to what may be going on with their own personal health," and help them get the assistance they need to improve their health, McKee said.

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