State News

State Health Plan nixes spot-checks of sneaking smokers

Posted May 6, 2010

— Thousands of North Carolina state employees admitted they were smokers and signed up for a higher-priced health coverage under the threat of random testing to see if they were sneaking a butt.

But so many workers opted to admit their vice and stay in the higher-priced plan that administrators doubt they'll find many cheaters. Legislators and plan administrators this week dropped plans to test for smokers trying to beat the system.

State Health Plan Director Jack Walker told lawmakers that 20 percent of workers enrolled in the higher-priced plan for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which begins in July, compared with 6 percent in the current year.

Statistics show that about 15 percent of people covered by the State Health Plan are smokers, Walker said.

The State Health Plan covers nearly 670,000 public employees, retirees and their family members.

Starting in July, smokers will receive less generous coverage. Workers could opt for the more-generous coverage if they signed a statement that they don't smoke or entered a program to help them quit.


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  • theno1brain May 11, 2010

    cam7002 wrote...."too funny how many state employees complain and moan about government and taxes, but they post on GOLO in the middle of the work day. Interesting."

    cam you should engage your mind before spouting things you don't know about...
    1.) I work a four ten week(that's 4 days 10 hours). I was off on the 7th.
    2.) BCBS only manages the paperwork involved with the SHP. They are not involved in what health benifits state employees receive or not. BCBS only collects a hefty fee for this.
    3. ) Next time you want to spew your grade school progressive agenda ("right wing...stinkin' thing") that has nothing to do with the subject at hand, you can go blog at the liberal website

  • gordonbabe May 7, 2010

    Hmmm wonder if there was any coincidence that this announcement came only 7 days after the insurance cutoff? So much for honesty in the workplace. We should expect this from the State and BCBS. I don't think they ever had any plans of testing. They just told us that to keep as many people of the 80/20 plan as they could. Guess they'll give the surplus to Medicaid.

  • cam7002 May 7, 2010

    Whine whine whine about "Socialism" -- but Blue Cross/Blue Shield is a PRIVATE company. Boo hoo about smokers' "rights" being violated, then whine whine whine about "personal responsibility". Cry like a baby about privacy rights being violated, then insist that USA Patriot Act is American as apple pie. Engage in fraud with an insurance filing, then scream bloody murder about how everyone should be punished to the fullest extent of the law for any unlawful activity. Right-wing, right-wing, you don't know a stinkin' thing. And too funny how many state employees complain and moan about government and taxes, but they post on GOLO in the middle of the work day. Interesting.

  • theno1brain May 7, 2010

    As a state employee, I objected to signing the attestation form for reasons concerning privacy rights and unanswered questions about the "tobacco test" specifics. Numerous emails went unanswered from the State Health Plan (SHP) people. It said that the form was a "legal document". It seems to me that since that parts of this "legal form" has been changed after it has been signed then it becomes "invalid" and all the state employees who signed it has really NOT signed it and should all be in the more expensive plan as the people who really did not sign the form.

  • Das G May 7, 2010

    So coverage for smokers will decrease in June, and at the same time, you tell the world that you'll no longer check up state employees that say they don't smoke. Hrm, I predict that there will be alot of people that will "quit" smoking in the next few weeks.

  • macmorrisfamily May 6, 2010

    I have been a State employee for 13 years. I have never smoked a single cigarette or used any other tobacco product. I did not attest to anything by chosing to move to the 70/30 plan. The slant of this article offends me. Out of principle I refused to sign the attestation. BCBS, who administers the State Health Plan, had not one shred of empirical or financial data to support improved health of those insured or actual cost savings with the implementation of this program. It is a politiclly correct way to raise revenue. Those who wanted the benefit of the better cost sharing percentages (80/20) had to attest they were not using tobacco or were participating in a cessation program. BCBS did not present statistical data as to the success rates of people utilizing the cessation programs. So they get the benefit of the lower rate while continuing to smoke. I can already see the success of this program!!

  • susraz May 6, 2010

    I think it is fine to be regulated as to what you can or cannot do on the job. I feel that unless you are getting paid 24/7, the state should not be able to tell their employees what they can do in the privacy of their own home. By the way, I have been wondering where my refund check was, I guess it has gone to spy on state employees that smoke or overeat.

  • Howie275 May 6, 2010

    I'm a state employee and I don't disagree with what they have done. However I find it interesting that they target the state employees and not those on welfare with these random tests for smoking and illegal drugs. I also find it interesting that the state of all places doesn't require drug screening before being hired and random during employment. I would guarantee that 1/4 of the state employees would lose their jobs if drug screening ever came into effect. Like I said I'm not against this. Just seems like they should have other higher priorities.

  • dmccall May 6, 2010

    It's interesting how many people think that the government has the right to keep you from smoking and make you wear a seatbelt, but doesn't have the right to outlaw your abortion.

  • DontAnnoyMe May 6, 2010

    Nonsense! I'm sure many people lied, and the real reason likely is that the cost of testing is prohibitive. LOL, as if enough of our money isn't already wasted.