Still smoking? Pay for your own health insurance, darn it!

You've probably heard about people paying more for their health insurance if they smoke or have a pre-existing health condition. That's not new. What is new is that now your company might make you pay for your own health-compromising vices.

Health insurance costs have been a major sore spot for employers over the last several years. It can easily cost a thousand dollars or more per month to insure a family, and much more if a company has sick employees or a particularly generous health plan. In an effort to help cut those costs, employers are turning to their employees who smoke, eat poorly, and are overweight to foot the bill. 16% of employers are now making smokers pay the toll for their bad habit.

Of course, workers are fighting back, saying that this isn't fair. What seems unfair to me is an employer not charging employees for their bad habits, but having to cut benefits across the board to save money. That hurts those with a healthy lifestyle, and that seems awfully unfair.

Other companies have tried the flip side of this, offering wellness rewards to the workers who maintain healthy lifestyles. Companies who do penalize workers with vices most often offer programs to help them change their bad habits. Maybe now's the time to consider giving up cigarettes and eating better?

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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