HEALTHY LIVING: Smoking Surcharge Incentive

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Des Moines' hospitals have had smoke free campuses for almost 7 years.

But now, Lutheran, Methodist and Blank hospitals have taken it even further. Employees, who choose to smoke, or have a smoker on their insurance plan, will have an extra 25 dollars taken out of every paycheck.

Some healthcare workers call it a “punishment,” but Iowa Health officials say it’s an “incentive.”

“What we`ve heard is it gives employees a reason to say now it’s my time to stop smoking,” said Della Guzman, the Manager of Wellness Services, with Iowa Health.

Mercy hospital has used the surcharge for years.

“It’s’ just a challenge to get health care workers to actually take care of themselves, so we have really worked hard offering initiatives,” said Pat Cavanaugh, with Mercy Medical Center. And they say its working.

Iowa health hopes their employees also choose to quit.

Mercy has taken their policies a step further: they don't hire smokers.

A Mercy spokesperson says other companies saw a 10% rise in insurance rates last year, but Mercy's rates only went up 1%.

Both hospitals also offer several other “wellness programs” for their employees to encourage a healthy lifestyle.