Making the Most of Your Tobacco Incentives

The dollars employers pay out to individuals who falsely claim they do not use tobacco can more than offset the cost of adding cotinine testing to their existing biometric wellness screening programs.

Many employers provide financial incentives to employees who do not use tobacco or who are attempting to quit tobacco. To attain the incentive or to avoid the surcharge for using tobacco, it is customary for employers to rely on participants to self-report or attest to the fact they are tobacco-free. In the 2014 Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health (NBGH) Employer Survey of 595 large employers, 42% indicated they currently use a tobacco surcharge. Among those who used a tobacco surcharge, the average health insurance premium surcharge paid by tobacco users was $520. Based on the significance of that dollar amount, it is clear that accurately detecting tobacco usage is important. To protect the integrity of their programs employers are increasingly turning to cotinine testing, a metabolite that detects the  presence of nicotine, to identify participants who use tobacco.

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