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Employers should judge health risks

7:59 PM, Apr. 24, 2013  |  Comments
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May I take exception to your editorial of April 8, reprinted from the Los Angeles Times, on "Employers shouldn't judge health risks."

When the cost of paying for employee health problems was low, this wasn't an issue. For the past 25 years, the cost of paying for employee health problems has risen faster than any other cost a company has. Today, while they are prevented from knowing the health risks of individuals, employers are flooded with information about what the risks are they are paying for, and how much, and they know that much more than half are due to bad lifestyle choices under the person's control.

Smoking is one of them, and the most obvious. Not only do studies show that, on average, smokers take more and longer breaks, they are generally less productive. In addition, their costs are such that insurers charge a premium if a person is a smoker. (I'm not counting the damage to others from second-hand smoke, because more than 70 percent of employers ban smoking on company premises anyway.) Employers understand smoking becomes addictive and, if the person is employed, usually offer company-paid services to help the person quit.

Phil Hauck

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