"If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character...Would you slow down? Or speed up?" — Chuck Palahniuk

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"The Smokey Slippery Slope!"


So I have to quite smoking and it is not because of any noble reason like the increased chances of getting cancer or that my second hand smoke may or may not be as harmful as actually inhaling the cigarette smoke directly, or that at the time of this writing that Newports have went up to $5.25 a pack and climbing, but because I am being forced to quit. Now don't get me wrong I want to stop and I am going to stop but on my terms. Let me set the story...

About two months ago my wife came home and told me about how we have to quit smoking and I was like, "Yeah I know. The price is going up the first of the year with the tax increase in MD!" She said, "Not only that the Tribune is also charging (in our case) an extra $175 dollars a month if you smoke and do not go to a smoking cessation class and complete the program"! My first reaction was, "How the fuck they going to tell me what to do I don't work for them whores"! However, I am on my wife's health plan which they pay a portion of so maybe they can tell me what to do. Then I thought about it some more and I got pissed because this is a very slippery slope we are on. Now I wouldn't mind as much if there were incentives to quit smoking, but penalties? Further more what a person does off company time is none of the companies fucking business! Now before I get any further into my rant here is the bullshit the insurance companies, who are squeezing the employers, are trying to get over. From Editor & Publisher:

Tribune's $100 Penalty for Employees Who Smoke Kicks in Next Year

Published: December 11, 2007 5:40 PM ET

NEW YORK In an effort to motivate workers to kick unhealthy habits, U.S. companies are hitting them where it hurts: in their wallets.

But meddling in workers’ lifestyles through financial penalties risks lawsuits, say some consultants and lawyers.

Employers who provide health insurance often use financial incentives, such as contributions toward premiums, to encourage workers to participate in wellness programs like smoking-cessation courses.

Now some employers are wielding the stick, as well as the carrot. Employees at some companies who are overweight, smoke, or have high cholesterol, for instance, and who don’t participate in wellness programs, will pay more for health insurance. In extreme cases, employees’ insurance deductibles could rise by $2,000.

“The bottom line, is that employers want to see results,” says Tom Parry, president of the Integrated Benefits Institute, a nonprofit focused on health issues.

Starting in 2008, Tribune Co., which owns newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun, will apply a monthly surcharge of $100 to family premiums of workers — or dependents — who use tobacco.

Clarian Health, an Indianapolis-based hospital chain, will fine employees who are smokers $5 a paycheck.

Small employers, who are the most at risk from rising health costs, have gone the furthest in forcing unhealthy employees to pay more for insurance.

In most states, people with health problems already pay more for health policies in the individual insurance market. But for employer- sponsored plans, federal law dictates that all workers covered under the same plan must pay the same premium irrespective of their health.

Recent legislation granted some exceptions to this standard through the vehicle of wellness programs. Critics say employees will be hurt. Indeed, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it is looking into wellness programs to see whether they sometimes violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. MORE!

As long as I do my job and don't smoke on them peoples job site how they going to tell me what I can or cannot do after my 9-5 has ended?! What's next people who drink, red meat eaters? Insurers are already telling us we have to lose weight or will not cover people because of weight issues. They have been so deregulated that they can pretty much do what they want and they do. Notice it is the people that have insurance that have to go through the most shit to keep it? You pay month after month and nothing ever happens, then when something does finally happen the insurance companies treat you like the criminal and take you through a bunch of bullshit to get what is due to you...what you paid for! Even worse having some suit tell you they are not covering a life saving procedure to save his company a few bucks so he can get a bigger bonus! I have been on the other end of a telephone conversation where a man was calling into BCBS and crying because the doctor would not perform an operation his wife needed because his insurance didn't cover the procedure.

What about the legal ramifications and more control over our lives by The Machine? If we let them tell us how to live health wise what is stopping them from interfering and controlling the rest of our personal lives?! Another thing to ponder is if the whole idea behind a group insurance policy is to cover everyone regardless of individual health issues then how can they start singling people out in group health plans?! Very slippery slope indeed! This is still America and under the illusion of a free society and freedom, people are allowed to do whatever they want even if we think it is stupid or unpopular or increases the risk of that person dying. It is that persons choice unless he is harming others with his actions.

So they made everyone at my wife's job take a survey and they ask you about smoking and I am sure when they got them surveys back not a single person in the building smoked. So I was trying to think how the hell are they going to enforce some shit like this, because I see anyone sniffing around my house they are going to get "bricked". I guess they will have people around the the hood watching you in your home (I hope so because it's been a while since I
"bricked" a mahfugger) or monitoring your purchases or having your friends and neighbors snitching on you?! Well if your friends are snitching on you they are not really friends are they?

Again don't get me wrong with the cost cigarettes rapidly approaching crack prices and me getting close to that age where the effects of smoking start to show, I WILL stop smoking, but I will not be told when or how! I know some are saying but Nutz your being a smoker raises insurance cost for everyone because you are not as healthy! That is not true! Well statistically speaking maybe! There have been studies that do show more absenteeism with smokers than non smokers but who is to say that the smoking caused the absence? Smoking never decreased my productivity. My grandmother smoked for at least 40 years and she smoked filter less Pall Malls then Chesterfields again unfiltered until the day she laid down and never woke up and she didn't die from cancer but other complications. On the other hand my grandfather did die of cancer but it was more so due to working in asbestos filled buildings back in the day! They diagnosed him with emphysema which was most definitely aggravated by the smoking. In other words results vary from individual to individual. Here is the question though. If a person is being penalized to do something is it voluntary or being forced?!

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