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Lawmakers Could Revisit Smoking’s Effect On Insurance Rates

Some employers are already charging different rates to smokers. Labor leaders say they worry about a trend where many health habits are legislated against.

cigarette

Photo: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr)

The discussion could affect how group insurance rates are considered in Indiana.

Indiana‘s statewide smoking ban is just a couple of months old, but legislators may revisit the issue next year. The Indiana Chamber supported the smoking ban, and has set a goal of lowering smoking rates over the next 13 years.

One idea that has been floated is allowing employers to charge higher insurance premiums or co-pays for people who smoke or have other unhealthy habits. Indiana AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott says the union would fight that idea if it is proposed. She warns it would go against the whole idea of group insurance.

“The whole point is that everybody in the group. It‘s a rate for the risk of the group as a whole,” Guyott says. “And there‘s certainly concern if you start segmenting out one group of people because you don‘t like something about it, or because they‘re more expensive, you‘re really destroying the whole concept.”

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar says the state‘s high proportion of smokers translates to higher health costs for employers. The Chamber‘s policy committee will not decide its legislative agenda until November, and Brinegar says he’s not sure how a majority of employers feel on the issue.

“I‘m not sure where our organization‘s going to end up on that, but it begs the question of, if you know that a number of employers won‘t hire you because you smoke, then that may create an additional impetus to quit,” he says.

The Chamber is also considering whether to ask legislators to close a loophole in the smoke-free workplace law which took effect July 1. Some union contracts include so-called smoking shacks — bus hut-like structures on company property which appear to be exempt from the ban because they are open on one side.

Neither the Chamber nor the AFL-CIO has taken a stand on that issue yet.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Johnson/100001533026147 Bob Johnson

    ANYTHING to discourage new business.

  • smokefree1988

    To Bruce Fox: Thank you for being considerate to those who don’t smoke and don’t want to inhale the Class A carcinogin, secondhand smoke. If more smokers had the same attitude and disposition as yourself the rest of us who do not smoke would be better off (except perhaps those in the medical profession).

  • Pingback: Health insurance plans in Indiana may change the way smoking is factored into rates

  • http://www.facebook.com/letitia.sanchez.37 Letitia Nicole Adams

    While I see way all non smokers fell this way. Not everone can live this way. Smokers like me are geting our rights revoked! Know they law is giving our employers lea-way to impose there beliefes and thoughts apon us. Just becouse they dont smoke know they tell us we have to go 8 to 10 hours without one. It’s to the point were we are being punshed for trying to follow IN law by walking form the building on our Break! You wont us to be respectfull of you non smokers yet show non of the same consdertion to us. How is that not taking away form our rights? How is that protcecting us ? We pay they same taxes as you non smokers. Next you will tell me becouse I am a Pagan I have to convert to a Christan! Last time I looked around This was part of The US. LAND OF THE FREE! Yet more and more of our rights are being revoked by these laws that are lossly made so that we can be tooken advantage of by people who “knows what’s best for socity.” Do any of you pay my taxes? Pay my rent? Pay my bills? Discrimantion is still present today. These laws are proff enough in any hard working middle class person today……..

  • smokefree1988

    Ms. Adams, I’m at a loss for the timing of your reply eight months after the article was written. Two comments. First, try the spell check feature on your computer or smartphone or I-Pad. Second, smoking is not a protected right so there is no discrimination.

    All of the smoking regulations and increased taxes are generated to add impetus to get smokers to stop smoking. Since most smokers are inconsiderate on where they smoke, thus exposing those who do not smoke to the toxic waste residue of secondhand smoke, restrictive policies and laws are necessary in order to protect those who do not smoke from those who do. It’s as simple as that. It’s just unfortunate it took so long for the Indiana legislature to rise up to their responsibilities and see what most of the country has known for years.

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