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Duke To Add Tobacco Surcharge To Insurance
Durham, NC - Because tobacco use drives up health care costs and leads to chronic health problems, Duke will ask staff and faculty who smoke or use other forms of tobacco to pay more for health insurance beginning in 2013.
During the annual open enrollment period in October, employees enrolling in a Duke health insurance plan or verifying dependents online will be presented with a question about whether or not they smoke or use other forms of tobacco. Staff and faculty who are smokers or tobacco users will be charged $10 per month, beginning in January 2013.
"Tobacco use is linked to many cancers and other health conditions, so it drives up the cost of health care," said Lois Ann Green, assistant vice president of Human Resources-Benefits. "The surcharge is one way to emphasize this and is an added incentive for employees and their family members to seek support now to quit."
Duke will remove the monthly surcharge from an employee's health insurance if the employee successfully completes a tobacco cessation program. LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke's employee wellness program, offers free smoking cessation support options.
To encourage staff and faculty to quit smoking, Duke has ramped up efforts to publicize tobacco cessation programs and sponsored "Why I Want to Quit," a campaign for employees to share photos illustrating what motivated them to give up tobacco.
Sue Stanton, who quit smoking last November, submitted a photo of her two cats, Georgia and Tacoie.
"Smoking not only harms us, but it also harms those who live with us," said Stanton, a clerk at the Duke Credit Union. "There have been times I was tempted to try a cigarette, but then I looked around at my cats, prairie dog and cocker spaniel and thought about what it was doing to them and me."
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