There are two parts to the wellness program:
- Wellness Incentives: Employees enrolled in University medical insurance can earn wellness incentives by completing two simple steps:
- A visit with a licensed health care provider from November 1, 2020 to October 31, 2021 for a qualified wellness program visit, AND
- Complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice, during 2022 Open Enrollment.
Employees who complete these two steps will receive lower out-of-pocket expenses for themselves and their enrolled dependents and will avoid paying a $50 per month tobacco surcharge. Those enrolled in the Health Savings Plan will receive an additional HSA contribution.
- Tobacco Surcharge: Employees enrolled in University medical insurance must complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice to avoid the $50 monthly tobacco surcharge. Participation in wellness incentives is not required to complete the Pledge.
A qualified wellness program office visit includes a visit you have with an in-network primary care physician, advanced practice nurse or other health care provider. The visit must be coded by your provider as a “wellness visit” to qualify. Confirm the correct coding with your provider.
If you are enrolled in a University medical plan, you pay $0 for your in-network qualified wellness office visit.
No; participation is voluntary. You don’t have to see your doctor or complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice. However, you will not receive wellness incentives unless you complete both steps. Plus you will have an extra $50 tobacco surcharge each month if you do not complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice.
No; the wellness program only applies to employees enrolled in a University medical plan. If you use tobacco and you are not enrolled in a University medical plan, the $50 surcharge does not apply.
If you have been enrolled in University medical insurance since at least June 2021, complete the wellness program steps. If your medical coverage started July 2021 or later, you only have to complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice during Open Enrollment.
If you complete these steps, you can earn the following incentives, based on your medical plan coverage:
- Health Savings Plan: Additional $90 contribution to your Health Savings Account
- Classic Plan: Medical out-of-pocket maximum savings of $1,400 individual/$2,800 family
- Premier Plan: Medical out-of-pocket maximum savings of $500 individual/$1,000 family
Note: You do not need to complete a qualified wellness exam to participate in a tobacco cessation program and avoid the $50 monthly tobacco surcharge.
To avoid the $50 surcharge you have to complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice. If you attest to using tobacco products, you’ll have to commit to a tobacco cessation program as part of the Tobacco Pledge and Notice.
If you did not complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice during Open Enrollment, or you didn’t commit to a tobacco cessation program, you’ll pay the $50 per month tobacco surcharge.
No, the incentives are tied to your participation. You—the employee—must complete the wellness program requirements in order for wellness incentives to be applied to covered family members.
No; only the employee can participate and receive incentives.
UMR will track your claims for a qualified office visit between November 1, 2020 and October 31, 2021. There is no form to complete and no need to contact UMR to report your visit. Log on to UMR to review your claims. Then, complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice as part of Open Enrollment.
You will need to request sick leave to cover your absence from work due to a doctor’s appointment.
Program participation tracking only includes completion status—a yes/no indicator. No individual medical information is used in determining wellness program completion.
Using tobacco contributes to chronic and serious diseases, which results in increased health care costs that affect all medical plan members. The goal isn’t to collect $50 from participants. Rather, the surcharge is intended to draw attention to tobacco use and create a financial incentive for tobacco users to begin the process of quitting.
Yes; a number of universities currently apply similar fees, including:
- University of South Carolina
- University of Georgia System
- University of Missouri System
- Texas A&M University.
Employees enrolled in a University medical plan must self-identify their use of tobacco. Non-users will NOT pay the surcharge. Also, those who currently use tobacco but commit to participating in a smoking/tobacco-cessation program will NOT pay the surcharge.
Tobacco includes any form of tobacco products that are smoked (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, pipes); applied to the gums, chewed or ingested (e.g., dipping or chewing leaf tobacco); and/or inhaled (e.g., snuff, vaporizers or electronic cigarettes).
The wellness program is voluntary; no one has to participate. However, all employees enrolled in University medical insurance will need to complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice to avoid the $50 surcharge.
Employees who enroll in University medical coverage on July 1, 2021 or later don’t have to complete a qualified doctor’s visit for 2021, but they still need to complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice to avoid the surcharge.
The surcharge is $50 per month. If you are paid bi-weekly, the surcharge is $23.08 (calculated as $50 x 12 months, then divided by 26 bi-weekly pay periods). Note: If you are a nine-month employee, your monthly tobacco surcharge amount may differ to account for the nine-month payroll period.
No; the tobacco surcharge will be a separate, after-tax deduction on your paycheck stub.
Employees will be asked to self-report their tobacco use status:
- Not a tobacco user
- A tobacco user who will participate in a tobacco cessation program
- A tobacco user who elects to continue use without participation in a tobacco cessation program.
It is up to you to answer honestly. Remember, the program is intended to encourage your participation in better health and it makes no-cost tobacco cessation support available to you. Significant under-reporting will lead to more stringent evaluation methods—and likely more significant financial and disciplinary risks—in future years.
Great that you want to quit! Check out our Wellness page for resources, including tobacco-cessation programs, and a free prescription for Chantix, patches or gum.
Successfully quitting can take three or four attempts. There’s no penalty for not quitting. Engaging in a recognized cessation program is the key.
Two things will happen if you don’t complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice:
- You will not receive the 2022 wellness incentive
- You will pay the tobacco surcharge, deducted from each paycheck.
Even if you don’t smoke or use tobacco, failure to complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice means you’ll pay up to $600 more each year to remain enrolled in a University-sponsored medical plan.
The tobacco surcharges will not apply to medical insurance premiums. Instead, those funds will be retained by each campus for health and wellness activities. Each campus will make a decision how to spend those dollars.
Dependents are not included in the wellness or tobacco surcharge program. The tobacco surcharge applies only to your use of tobacco products.
It depends on how long you’ve had University medical insurance. If you were enrolled prior to July 2021, then yes, you must also have a qualified office visit between November 1, 2020 and October 31, 2021. If your University medical coverage started July 1, 2021 or later, then no, you are excused from this step until next year.
You can complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice again to stop the surcharge, but it won’t take effect immediately.