In an effort to control escalating health care insurance costs, many companies have been encouraging employees to voluntarily improve their health by offering smoking cessation classes, weight loss programs, exercises classes and health screenings.

But results have been disappointing, so employers are trying a different strategy – they require workers who smoke pay more for health insurance coverage.  Companies like PepsiCo, General Mills, Home Depot and Whirlpool have adopted a “smoker’s surcharge” which range from a few hundred dollars per year to over $2,000 per year.

Employers have also begun to explore using this approach for workers who can’t seem to lower their cholesterol or lose weight. A 2011 survey conducted by HR consulting firm Aon Hewitt found that almost half of employers expect by 2016 to have programs that penalize workers for “not achieving specific health outcomes” such as losing weight, quitting smoking, participating in health screenings, or lowering their cholesterol.

you are asked to approach this question from the employer’s perspective.  In order to curb health care costs and provide disincentives for unhealthy behavior, should employers be able to charge more for health care coverage to employees who:

–  do not take part in disease management programs to manage their cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes?

–  do not participate in health screenings?

–  do not lose enough weight to lower their body mass index to a healthy level?

–  Why or why not?

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