I got the open enrollment packet for my city run insurance this week. I usually skip right through to the medical coverage since I am on the dental and vision plan provided by my Local, and found what had originally been thought of as merely a rumor until my chief confirmed it a few weeks ago: health insurance surcharges.
In my effort to have talking points, and the Local researching the topic beforehand, I found out that they are completely legal and the legal basis for the surcharge originates from HIPAA.
I blinked twice. HIPAA? I thought that was only for health insurance electronic records.
I guessed wrong. You see, the insurance company can charge you up to 20% of your premium if you happen to be a user of things that are known to cause long term health problems, like tobacco products, and they can also charge you if you are obese. Thankfully, they aren’t charging for that. The way out of that particular law is that they have to provide you a way to avoid the surcharge, such as a cessation program.
I have long believed that in emergency services poor diets, tobacco use, and complacency have created busted pant seams, bulging bellies, and a pre-disposition to high blood pressure and heart attacks. We die by the hundreds if not thousands each year from cardiac related problems but are either too stupid or too proud to accept help or even seek it out. I hate these days people have to be hit in the pocketbook to quit something addictive (even then it is not a deterrent sometimes) but how can you be against it if it keeps you alive a little longer?
I remember when the talk of department physicals, and people were actually going to decline it! Here management is providing an opportunity for you get a picture of your current health and you want to turn it down because you don’t want to be “put off the job”? Granted fire departments do a poor job of starting and maintaining a health improvement program, but when an opportunity is offered up why not take full advantage of it?
Some days I dislike being an adult.