Tobacco-user surcharge probable in January for all Purdue medical plans

September 19, 2011

Pending approval by the Purdue Board of Trustees at the end of September, Purdue will add a tobacco-user surcharge to all of its medical plans effective Jan. 1. The annual $250 per person surcharge will apply to all employees and spouses/same-sex domestic partners (SSDPs) who are tobacco users and covered on any of Purdue's medical plans. The surcharge will increase to $500 per person in 2013. 

"The tobacco-user surcharge is in addition to premium increases coming for 2012 on all of Purdue's medical plans," says Luis Lewin, vice president for human resources. "Premium increases will be announced after the September Board of Trustees meeting, but we are announcing the tobacco-user surcharge now to give employees time to act to avoid the surcharge."

Employees will certify their tobacco-user status and that of their covered spouses/SSDPs as they complete the online benefits open enrollment process this fall. Those covered by a Purdue medical plan who do not certify their status will be considered a tobacco user and will be surcharged.

To qualify as a non-tobacco user and avoid the surcharge, a person must have been a non-tobacco user for at least 12 months immediately prior to when the employee completes his or her 2012 benefits enrollment. Open enrollment ends Nov. 23.

Employees and spouses/SSDPs who have used tobacco during the past 12 months can qualify for a waiver of the surcharge by completing an approved tobacco cessation program. Approved programs completed Sept. 1-Nov. 23 qualify for a waiver of the 2012 surcharge.

Tobacco users who have not completed an approved cessation program between Sept. 1 and Nov. 23 will have opportunities to complete an approved program during 2012 to qualify for a partial waiver of the surcharge.

Information about approved cessation programs is available through Human Resources WorkLife Programs. Both classroom and online programs are offered. Those interested in completing a program by Nov. 23 should enroll no later than Oct. 1. For more details, go to

"The proposed surcharge reflects the higher medical costs of employees who use tobacco," Lewin says. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men and women who smoke have more lifetime medical expenses and are absent from work more days each year than those who do not smoke. In addition, smoking increases costly complications of pregnancy, such as pre-term delivery and low birth-weight infants.

"IU and the state of Indiana already have different medical plan premiums for those who use tobacco and those who don't," says Becky Gutwein, benefits manager in Human Resources. In addition, Purdue has had tobacco-user rates on its life insurance program since July 1, 2009.

Lewin says, "Our medical plans and our campus wellness programs will continue to offer tobacco cessation help, from coaching to prescriptions, as we have for years. We are on a journey to promote a healthy culture at Purdue, and this proposed surcharge -- as a way to encourage people to stop using tobacco -- is another step toward that goal."

For questions about the proposed surcharge, check the question-and-answer Web page at or contact Human Resources at 49-42222 or

For questions about approved tobacco cessation programs, contact WorkLife Programs at 49-45461 or, or contact your regional campus wellness program.