Last May PEBB was forced to change from fines to incentives because of an uproar from public employees and more importantly their union representatives (four of the nine board members of PEBB are union representatives).
This February PEBB decided to keep the current structure of paying those who play along, but another disturbing item has arisen. Currently those who smoke have to pay a $25/mo surcharge. Board Member Joan Kapowich wants to see that fee applied to all 18-26 year old children who are on the plan as well. Hannah Hoffman of the Statesman Journal explains:
The board heard a proposal from Kapowich to extend the monthly tobacco-use surcharges for dependents ages 18-26. Right now, only employees and their spouses are charged $25 each if they smoke or chew tobacco.The debate is over whether people should be punished merely for not doing what PEBB encourages rather than for any actual costs that will be incurred. The authoritarian bent of some PEBB board members is clear. Their position is that the state should be able to punish you just because it doesn't like what you do irrespective of the fact that you are not hurting others or likely to do so.
Under federal health care reforms, young adults can now stay on health insurance plans until they turn 26. That leaves PEBB trying to figure out if they should be subject to the same fees and rules.
Some members said Tuesday that it didn’t seem fair because young people wouldn’t have many health problems, even if they do smoke. Others said it may be good public health policy to encourage quitting tobacco use early. [emphasis added]