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It may not come as a surprise that people who smoke or are obese use more health care services than their co-workers, but you may be surprised to know that companies have started passing on those costs directly to employees. In 2012 there is expected to be a large increase in the number of companies that charge a higher premium for individuals who smoke or do not maintain a healthy weight.

On the bright side, the rise of health care penalties has been accompanied by the rise of wellness programs. More and more companies are encouraging their employees to make healthier lifestyle choices to curb rising health care costs. Company-sponsored wellness programs offer incentives such as lower health insurance premiums for employees who don’t smoke and who maintain a healthy weight.

While some experts see health penalties as a necessity in a time of rocketing health care costs, others believe these penalties will affect low-income employees disproportionally.

What do you think? Read the full article at Reuters.

Insight: Firms to charge smokers, obese more for healthcare