Workers who are Obese and Smoke Fined
The chiefs always think and worry about their employees’ health. For example Raleigh North Carolina became the second state to penalize state employees by placing them in a more expensive health insurance plan if they’re obese.
Smokers will feel also the drag of higher costs as North Carolina and South Carolina state employees who use tobacco are imposed to pay more for health insurance next year. Officials coping with a steady increase in health care costs for state employees each year are aiming to improve state workers’ health, which saves money in medical expenses.
Anne Rogers, director of integrated health management with the N.C. State Employees Health Plan, explained: “Tobacco use and poor nutrition and passivity are the leading causes of preventable deaths in our state. We need a healthy workforce in this state. We’re trying to encourage individuals to adopt healthy lifestyles.”
State workers who don’t quit smoking and don’t cut Big MacDonald will end up paying more for health insurance. Tobacco users get placed in a more costly insurance plan starting in July and, for those who qualify as obese, in July 2011. Of course some state employees are not agreed with the new plan. The State Employees Association of North Carolina opposes the tobacco and obesity plan as aggressive steps that could have been avoided if the legislature had fixed the plan.
Kim Martin, a sergeant at Piedmont Correctional Institution in Salisbury, said: “It’s my understanding they’re talking about testing for tobacco use in the workplace which, to me, would create a hostile environment. And it’s an invasion of privacy. This is America, the land of the free.
I don’t think that body mass index is a very good measure. I know some folks who would have a high body mass index because they’re muscular.” The future health plan covers more than 600,000 state employees, pensioners and teachers at a total cost last year of $2.6 billion. Rogers said that the plan’s priority is to improve health and save money in the process.
The idea of penalizing unhealthy lifestyles and remunerating healthy conduct is hardly new among insurance plans. Public health insurance plans in other states already fines smokers or reward nonsmokers in insurance costs too.
North Carolina will permit state workers with a BMI of up to 40 to keep the discount, although a BMI of 30 is considered obese by some experts. Officials decided to implement such a plan only for to save the employees health, because as it is known tobacco and obesity are leading risk factors for ailments such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and chronic breathing disorders.
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