NC Health Plan Proposal Penalizes Smokers

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Some North Carolina state employees, teachers and retirees could see even higher premiums if they smoke or fail to make other personal health choices starting next year.

The State Health Plan's trustee board approved Monday new premium rates that would go up on average by 4.7 percent annually in 2014 and 2015. Enrollees in more generous plans would have to pay a $20-per-month surcharge for smoking and another $20 per month if they fail to choose a primary care doctor and take a health assessment.

State workers would continue to keep zero premiums for the less generous plan, but they would be subject to similar surcharges in 2016.

Board members hope the plan will encourage healthier lifestyles.

The health plan provides insurance for 668,000 employees, retirees and their dependents.