NEW ORLEANS - Your new health insurance policy will include complete coverage for many types of wellness programs and screenings to prevent illness.
But it also takes some of the high cost burden away from businesses. Now employers may ask for your help in exchange for paying for part of your health care.
When it comes to your health, the person you should depend on most is not your doctor. It's you. A handful of unhealthful behaviors is what makes most of us sick. A poor diet, stress management and sleeping patterns, using tobacco, drugs, excessive alcohol, not exercising or controlling a chronic health condition with the best method, and not getting regular health screenings.
The lack of healthful behavior drives complications from diabetes, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, back pain, obesity, cancer, arthritis, asthma, allergies, sinusitis, depression, lung disease, chronic kidney disease, and high cholesterol and and that accounts for 80 percent of all worldwide health care costs.
One way the new health care insurance law hopes to lower medical costs is give incentives for good health behavior and disincentives for bad.
"They may ask you if you smoke or not and they can apply a 50 percent penalty on top of whatever your normal insurance premium would be," explained Gabriel P. Janusa, the President of Demand Insurance & Benefits, LLC.
"Health care reform actually allows employers to surcharge employees who do not embrace smoking cession programs, if they set one up," said Denny Ebersole, a insurance producer with AON Hewitt.
That employee could be charged an extra $2,000 for insurance. Simply put, smoking is expensive, costing the state and business billions.
"Most employers have been subsidizing employees' bad behavior for decades. We've been protecting them from the financial consequence of that. Well the world is changing and individual accountability is the rule of the day now," added Ebersole.
Since smoking is a powerful addiction, do smokers think a law can help?
"This is great as far as I'm concerned. And I recognize that I'm going to pay more if I keep smoking. And so good, maybe that will actually make me quit for a final time," said contractor Landon Gates.
Another smoker is not willing to pay more for health coverage but would go to a smoking cessation program.
"Well, if they are going to pay for it and it's a good thing for me, to help me stop smoking, I'll go for it," said smoker Jeffrey Baptiste.
The new rules allow businesses to give anywhere from a 30 to 50 percent deduction in premium costs for joining in wellness programs and quit smoking programs.