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August 21, 2008
SC State Workers Face Insurance Surcharge for Tobacco Use

State workers who smoke or chew tobacco will be paying more for their health insurance beginning in January 2010, when a $25 monthly surcharge is added to their contributions for the state healthcare plan and HMOs. The plan is available to state and local government workers and teachers and has approximately 400,000 participants, including employees and their family members.

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The surcharge does not cover the estimated $115 monthly cost to insure smokers and chewers. The state's Budget and Control Board passed the measure on August 14, in part to compensate for the approximately $75 million per year that the health insurance plan spends on tobacco-related illnesses, according to an article in the Charleston Post and Courier.

A signed affidavit will be required from employees and family members who do not use tobacco; the penalty for signing the affidavit under false circumstances will be decided at a later date, according to the article, although those caught in a lie may be required to pay back surcharges or be in jeopardy of losing health coverage.

Governor Mark Sanford said the surcharge is a way of recognizing that nonsmokers should not have to pay for poor health choices of their coworkers, says an Associated Press article, that also estimates that around one-quarter of state workers will be subject to the surcharge.

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