• Employees who use tobacco products will incur surcharge starting in
focus on improving employee health and reducing health care costs, Lifespan, Rhode
Island’s largest health system and employer, is implementing a new tobacco use
policy that will assess a surcharge to medical benefits for employees who use
tobacco products. Lifespan also will make additional smoking-cessation programs
available to all employees at no cost.
policy, which goes into effect on January 1, 2015, follows the recommendation
of the American Cancer Society and Quit for Life tobacco policy that adds a
surcharge to the medical benefits of those who use tobacco products and offers
free and effective tobacco cessation programs. The annual surcharge will
be $600 a year.
year in the U.S., there are 480,000 smoking-related deaths, making it the
leading cause of preventable premature death. As a health care system, our
mission is to deliver health with care and it’s something we must do for our
own employees,” said Timothy J. Babineau, MD, president and chief executive
officer of Lifespan. “Our goal in adopting this new policy, as many
employers have done nationwide, is to encourage employees who use tobacco
products to stop and to provide them with the tobacco cessation tools and
support they need to make quitting a reality.”
this policy is a continuation of the efforts Lifespan has made to help employees
lead healthier lives and eliminate smoking on its campuses. In 2008, all
Lifespan hospitals became smoke-free and two and a half years ago, Lifespan
required that all new employees be non-smokers. In the last few years,
Lifespan has strengthened its Working Healthy program with employee financial
rewards for starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as well as the
enhancement of prevention programs and other activities such as fitness
classes, health and wellness fairs, and support services.
tobacco surcharge will apply to employees who are tobacco users, as well as
their covered spouse or domestic partner who uses tobacco products. A tobacco
user is defined as someone who has used tobacco products within the previous
three months, regardless of frequency. Tobacco products include cigarettes,
cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, snuff or e-cigarettes.
intent is not to penalize tobacco users, rather, our focus is on motivating
employees to take advantage of the vast number of resources that we have
available to help kick this unsafe and costly habit,” said Howard Dulude,
Lifespan’s vice president of human resources operations. “Smoking is a costly
habit, just one pack of cigarettes a day can average nearly $3,000 a year, and
smokers cost employers an estimated $5,816 to $7,800 a year due to increased
health care costs, disability payments and time lost to work. We are making
smoking cessation programs available to our employees and their adult
dependents for free.”
Lifespan’s annual benefits open enrollment period in November, employees will
be required to indicate through an affidavit whether they or their covered
adult dependent are tobacco users. To avoid the surcharge, employees and
dependents must be tobacco free for the three months prior to November 3, 2014
or complete one of the offered tobacco cessation programs.
why we are announcing this program at this time. We want to give employees and
their family members an opportunity to participate in a smoking cessation
program,” Dulude explained.
for Life program being offered by Lifespan includes personalized telephone
counseling, educational materials, online interactive tools and free nicotine
replacement products, such as nicotine patches and gum. Other cessation
programs are offered through Lifespan’s Behavioral Medicine Clinical Services.