Duke University plans to charge smokers $10 more per month for their health insurance.  They admit to doing in order to help with rising healthcare costs and hopefully to improve the health of their employees.

This raises an interesting question.  Should healthcare providers charge a premium for behaviors that are detrimental to their health, and therefore potentially increasing insurance claims.

This writer must admit to being a smoker for more than 20 years; but, one who has been smoke free for the last six.  I must also admit that I would have had no problem paying more for health insurance (I already paid higher premiums for life insurance) because I smoked.  I knew it was bad for me.  So, I see nothing wrong with the being charged more.

But interesting questions are still raised.  What other behaviors should be surcharged?  Should an overeater be charged more for health insurance?  Should insurance be lower for someone who doesn’t drink?  How far do we take the practice of behavior-related surcharges or discounts?  Could the practice lead to premiums being based on heredity?

This writer tends to think that’s not likely.  Or at the very least, many, many years away.  But it does prove one point, and that is, that organizations are looking for ways to save on rising healthcare costs and that behavior –related surcharges are not off the table to help do so.

p.s.  This is a bigger deal because Duke is in the middle of tobacco country (in fact, it’s location is referred to as Tobacco Road.)