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Tobacco Surcharge Adds $2 per Bowl

(38 posts)
  • Started 8 months ago by transpose
  • Latest reply from dochudson
  1. transpose

    transpose

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    Well, I just finished my open enrollment for this year’s benefits and I now have to pay $540 per year because I smoke a single bowl 5 times per week. They already announced that next year will be $660 per year. This year’s surcharge comes out to just over $10 per week. I can get at least 16 smokes out of a 50g tin that costs $11. So in reality, that tin actually costs me $43.

    I can’t really lie about it because every work day around 3:30pm I have chunks of tobacco laying on my desk being prepped for the commute home.

    Is anyone else seeing their surcharge skyrocket? Or, do you even have a surcharge? According to the definition of tobacco use, I could literally smoke tea leaves 10x a day all year and never have to pay a penny. Ugh...

    Posted 8 months ago #
  2. ashdigger

    ashdigger

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    Prep your tobacco in a different location.

    Ubi Ignis Est?
    Posted 8 months ago #
  3. chilllucky

    chilllucky

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    I have always assumed that the "do you smoke" questions on insurance forms referred to cigarettes, so I always put down "no".

    Posted 8 months ago #
  4. shanez

    shanez

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    Prep your tobacco in a different location.

    First this ∆∆∆∆

    I have always assumed that the "do you smoke" questions on insurance forms referred to cigarettes, so I always put down "no".

    Second this ∆∆∆∆

    For real regular pipe/cigar smokers this might not be true but to the occasional user it is.

    When I was lying in the ER after a bilateral pulmonary embolism that was almost 100% blockage on both sides the doctor asked me if I smoked. I told him only the occasional cigar (I wasn't smoking my pipe at the time) and he looked at me and said "I asked you if you smoked". He made it quite clear regular cigarettes were the concern. This was during the diagnosis phase.

    I've had similar situations during physicals for disability and life insurance. Non-cigarette occasional use is not what they are looking for.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  5. haparnold

    Hap

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    Agreed with what the other folks are saying. I think they actually test for nicotine in the bloodstream when they do an insurance physical, but really one could just knock off pipe smoking for a couple weeks prior, out of an abundance of caution.

    This comes down under the heading of "spirit of the law vs. letter of the law". One should note, however that if you were to develop a smoking-related medical condition, your insurance would probably have every right to refuse to cover it.

    De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
    Posted 8 months ago #
  6. perdurabo

    perdurabo

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    Refuse to do business with this insurance company. Most businesses have more than one option in the insurance department. When ANYONE ask you if you smoke say no. Of course the insurance company has a right to deny service/coverage. Remember, you have the right to deny the business transaction. Also they should notify you as to what they are blood testing you for and beat the test by not smoking for a while. Or Drink tons of water if it’s a pee test. The water dilutes the urine and throws the test off.

    It's not my position nor want to help another man. It's his responsibility to help himself, as where he can learn to dig down deep enough to save himself. -I. Kidd
    Posted 8 months ago #
  7. haparnold

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    Perdurabo, that's great in theory, but I don't think you'll find an insurance company that doesn't charge a premium to tobacco users. Exercising your right to deny the business transaction is great and all, but so is having insurance.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  8. unkleyoda

    unkleyoda

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    Never tell a doctor or insurance company you smoke. If they piss test you, tell them you are in a cessation program that involves using nicotine gum and or patches. The gum or patch will explain the nicotine presence. In my understanding, they cannot surcharge you for nicotine gum or patches.


    So you say you can drink? Well, I'm from Wisconsin. Try to keep up.
    Posted 8 months ago #
  9. dochudson

    dochudson

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    This all sounds good but do you really think you can fool the insurance companies?

    Posted 8 months ago #
  10. ssjones

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    Most businesses have more than one option in the insurance department

    Not by my experience. Plan options yes, but not a different company. Most small businesses now struggle just to find one reasonable plan/company.

    I quit for one month, and came back as a non-smoker. My wife works for the state, they definitely only offer one program.

    A risk of lying, if you work for a small company is that all but eight states are "Employed at Will", which means you could be terminated at their discretion. Lying on a company insurance plan could get you in a jam.

    Al

    Posted 8 months ago #
  11. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    You can Always use The Clinton Defense.
    "Define "smoking".

    Posted 8 months ago #
  12. haparnold

    Hap

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    You can Always use The Clinton Defense.

    That all depends on what the meaning of "is" is...

    Posted 8 months ago #
  13. saltedplug

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    What I've read considers any tobacco use, however occasional, as endangering health: snuff,. snus, cigars, cigarettes or pipe. It's all bad and there is no pattern of irregular use that protects you. Global data supports this conclusion and thus tobacco, like vermin, in being undeniably injurious, should be taxed and regulated into oblivion Though this has been very successful in the last 15 years, it would seem to amount to no more than financially taxing, though for every smoker holding on, another has let the habit go.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  14. haparnold

    Hap

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    Global data supports this conclusion and thus tobacco, like vermin, in being undeniably injurious, should be taxed and regulated into oblivion.

    Saltedplug, I don't agree with you on this one. While I don't deny that tobacco use is overall detrimental to one's health, so are plenty of things which are not regulated or taxed in similar ways (see: red meat, too much of which can cause cancer and heart disease, or sugary drinks, which can cause diabetes, or even loneliness, which is apparently as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes per day).

    The notion that the overarching 'social planner' has an obligation or a right to tax bad things into 'oblivion' is rooted more in political ideology than pragmatism, esp. when one looks at the continued use of basically any substance that governments have tried to eradicate.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  15. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    Saltedplug's statement is entirely correct. He is not affirming or endorsing the viewpoint, only stating that "global data" supports it.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  16. haparnold

    Hap

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    Maybe I misread the post? My interpretation of it was as follows: "Global data show tobacco use is bad (with which I agree), therefore tobacco should be taxed/regulated into oblivion (which seems like a bit of a logical leap to me)"

    Posted 8 months ago #
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    jeff540

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    I prefer the new and improved Clinton defense: "I can't recall." I'm using it now as often as possible. We had open enrollment a few weeks ago - I just didn't fill out the smoking question, thus no foul.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  18. saltedplug

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    I understand that other things are as injurious to one's health as tobacco, and thus the question why tobacco should be the object of regulation. But that begs the question of tobacco's injury to health. I've read that using tobacco is a form of risk-taking, like mountain climbing or race car driving. Though the participants may regulate the activity informally, there is no formal regulation. Political force used against anyone's form of risk-taking is both untowardly invasive and an abrogation of personal freedom.

    Edit: Javan

    Posted 8 months ago #
  19. perdurabo

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    Hap... my insurance doesn’t blood or pee test. If asked if I smoke by a Doctor I tell them no. So my insurance company is none the wiser. We have a market place inside the employers Enrollment Database via the internet and I’m giving my opinion based off my experience. Which in the OP ‘s case is irrelevant. Different state, different company, different expectations.... etc. Sometimes we are pushed into certain circumstances because a lack of choice. Thank god I have a choice. I think the only thing you can do if you do not have a choice is follow the advice many have given, Or pay the premium.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  20. mso489

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    Weaponized health insurance, not good. Next body weight, driving record, pain medicine use, social isolation, etc.etc. Pretty soon no one has health insurance. Good?

    Posted 8 months ago #
  21. leacha

    leacha

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    MEDICAL DEFINITIONS

    Smoking
    1. Smoking is the inhalation of the smoke of burning tobacco encased in cigarettes, pipes, and cigars.

    Inhalation
    1. The drawing of air or other substances into the airways and lungs.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  22. transpose

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    I have had United Healtcare for 25 consecutive years. These last couple years they continue to change who has to pay the premium. The essence of the rule hasn’t targeted just cigarette smokes for a few years now. This year it changed again to “tobacco user”. It includes all cigarettes, e-cigarettes, dig, snuff, chew, cigars, pipes...and then specifically says also tobacco use in things like hookah, pipes, bowls, etc. The only exception to these rules are if they are used 4 times a year or less for “celebratory” reasons.

    Here’s the deal... I absolutely love making home blends and flakes from whole leaf, collecting and sampling many tobaccos, and then talking about it and sharing it. I literally am frequented by 5-6 ppl who stop by for their daily “smell what tobacco David has today”. The reality is I do smoke tobacco. I’ve learned the hard way that life is way less stressful if I’m honest up front.

    Maybe I should start a collection jar for those who find their free sniffs therapeutic. Or even a gofundme.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  23. brian64

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    Someone has to pay for all of the chronic illness caused by obesity and toxicity in food, water and air.

    Tobacco users have been chosen.

    And no, unfortunately you can't write it off as a charitable contribution.

    “Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.” – George Carlin
    Posted 8 months ago #
  24. hiplainsdrifter

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    I have been shopping for life insurance but have been quoted rates at 3-4 times the 'preferred' amount because I reported occasional pipe use. If anyone knows a good company that wouldn't try to fleece me let me know. Otherwise I will put my premiums into a 401k for my kids, that way they actually have something to show for it in 20 years. Assuming I am not one of the 4 out of 10000 people who have an accidental death. FYI I smoke my pipe probably 20 times a year so it really is occasional. And lying about it is a stupid idea. They will find any reason they can to deny your claim.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  25. jvnshr

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    If your post has been edited out or deleted, don't panic, it was me. No politics gentlemen. I don't want to get 'the most thread closing mod of the month' title.

    Javan
    Posted 8 months ago #
  26. wyfbane

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    Too late, Javan, too late.

    I support you, though. I just get sad if I am not 'in before the lock'.

    Posted 8 months ago #
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    aldecaker

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    We've been down this road of discussing insurance and smoking before. I don't know how closely you've been following the situation in the United States in the last decade, Javan, but within that time, health insurance has become 100% politicized. 100%. So even though it relates directly to pipe smokers, discussing health insurance now IS discussing politics. We are going to need a ruling, I guess. Are we allowed to discuss it, or not? Once again, I reiterate: health insurance in the U.S. is now 100% politicized. INSURANCE = POLITICS. There's no such thing as being a little bit pregnant, and there is no such thing as discussing U.S. healthcare and only touching on politics a little bit.

    A man who serves his country is a patriot. A man who serves his government is an employee. The two are not always the same thing.
    Posted 8 months ago #
  28. ssjones

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    Folks: The OP posted two questions:

    Is anyone else seeing their surcharge skyrocket? Or, do you even have a surcharge?

    I'm confident we can answer them without bringing politics into the thread If not,this thread goes the way of the dodo.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  29. haparnold

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    'm confident we can answer them without bringing politics into the thread. If not, this thread goes the way of the dodo.

    Wisely said, and I apologize if I've done anything to bring this thread off-topic.

    My insurance doesn't charge a premium for tobacco usage because I'm in the military, and we have a form of single-payer healthcare (one of the perks, I guess). My private life insurance does however.

    Posted 8 months ago #
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    aldecaker

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    Al, I don't think we would ever see an answer in the format of "No. No." or "No. Yes". If people bring this up, we know where it's going to go. I just would like to know if this is something we can even put on the table. You may have noticed my lack of participation in this thread; it's because I don't want to break rules, but I can't possibly give two-word answers to questions like that.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  31. perdurabo

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    It’s not lying when it’s none of their business. Has the Doctor asked you if you have fire arms? Or have they asked you If your kids wear bicycle helmets when at the Pediatrician? It’s none of their business. But you have to do what you are comfortable with.

    +1 MSO

    Posted 8 months ago #
  32. jpberg

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    Mine hasn’t gone up in the last couple of years. I love a fight with city hall, but not with my insurance. I answer the questions honestly, and pay the price.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  33. ssjones

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    @aldercaker - see my previous reply, more than two words (50?) and no politics. It can be done. Political discussions are great for Facebook,but they never work out here.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  34. jvnshr

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    Too late, Javan, too late.

    I support you, though. I just get sad if I am not 'in before the lock'.

    Thanks for the support

    We've been down this road of discussing insurance and smoking before. I don't know how closely you've been following the situation in the United States in the last decade, Javan, but within that time, health insurance has become 100% politicized.

    What Al said.

    Posted 8 months ago #
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    aldecaker

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    Yeah, I saw what Al said.

    Everything should be fine, then. Carry on!

    Posted 8 months ago #
  36. cajomu

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    You are under no obligation to answer questions from your doctor about your smoking habits. If asked, simply decline politely to answer the question.

    According to Health Markets (https://www.healthmarkets.com/content/what-you-need-know-about-smoking-and-health-insurance), "Tobacco use is defined as 'any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, and pipe tobacco, used four or more times a week within the past 6 months.'” So, if you are an infrequent pipe smoker, you can truthfully answer "no."

    When it comes to life insurance, failure to admit to using tobacco can result in being denied coverage and lying can result in your insurance being cancelled or a life insurance claim being rejected.

    However, if you are a pipe smoker, you should tell your dentist so that he can check for oral cancer during check ups.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  37. davem

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    All of our available plans where I work have a tobacco surcharge, but you can avoid paying it be enrolling in the smoking cessation program. Can you sell nicotine gum on eBay? Just kidding

    Posted 8 months ago #
  38. dochudson

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    I'm surprised you are seeing the question as smoking before I retired about 10 years ago insurance and employers had switched to tobacco use.

    Posted 8 months ago #

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