Will President-Elect Obama Be Charged a Smoker’s Premium for His Health-Care?

Employers want healthy employees. Employee wellness programs are as hot as ever.  Employees who smoke, on the other hand, aren’t very popular.  Employers point to well-known statistics to support a variety of smoke-free policies.  Many companies have implemented bans on hiring smokers.  Others have taken to charging a “smokers’ premium” on health insurance.  Smokers’ premiums are a surcharge added to the health-care premiums of smokers, typically between $15 and $30 extra per month.  image

The idea of “punishing” employees for what they do in their non-working time does not sit well for some.  Others raise questions about enforcement–how will the employer know if the employee claims not to smoke but does so “socially” or even secretly.  Should closet smokers be able to avoid the smokers’ premiums by hiding what they do outside of the office?  

Our future President may be sympathetic to this secret society of smokers.  He is, after all, a card-carrying member.  Obama has admitted to being a former smoker but, in an interview with Tom Brokaw on political talk show, Meet the Press, the President-Elect admitted that he’s “fallen off the wagon” on more than one occasion and did not deny that he’d avoided Barbara Walter’s questions about whether he’d kicked the habit for good. 

In light of his penchant for lighting up, will the country’s next President really support the current employee wellness programs sweeping the nation? 

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