FL County Targets Smokers, Unhealthy Workers in Health Plan

September 21, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Broward County, Florida, projected that its spending on health insurance would increase 7% next year, but the cost will now remain flat after county commissioners last month approved premium surcharges for certain workers.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that county workers who smoke will pay higher health-insurance premiums if they do not quit by the end of the year, and employees also will pay more if they refuse to participate in an annual health assessment and a blood test that screens for conditions from high cholesterol to diabetes. Each surcharge will add $520 a year to the premiums deducted from an employee’s paycheck, according to the news report.

The county will require workers to sign affidavits saying whether they smoke, and employees caught lying could be subject to disciplinary action. The surcharge will not be imposed until April to give employees time to take advantage of smoking-cessation programs.

Regarding the health risk assessment, the newspaper said the county will not receive the information, but nurses working through its insurance provider will follow up by discussing health problems with the employees.

Commissioners say they plan to push next year for a surcharge on insurance premiums for overweight employees.

Broward joins a growing number of public and private employers that require workers who use tobacco products to pay more for their health insurance coverage (see Tenn. State Workers Will Pay More to Light Up and Worker Fired for Being a Smoker Sues Scotts ).