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Tobacco surcharge to be added to premiums

Effective Jan. 1, 2010, the South Carolina State Budget and Control Board has approved a $25 monthly surcharge be added to the health insurance premiums of tobacco users covered by the South Carolina Employee Insurance Program (EIP). If you, or any dependents covered on your health insurance, smoke or use tobacco you will pay the additional surcharge of $25 per month.   This is a monthly surcharge, not a “per person” fee.

The health plans offered by EIP— the State Health Plan, BlueChoice Health Plan and CIGNA Health Plan— are self-insured. All premiums, and employers’ contributions, are placed in a fund and used to pay claims and administrative costs. Illnesses caused and contributed by tobacco use cost this fund an estimated $75 million each year. Reducing tobacco use will reduce the cost to the insurance plans and, most importantly, keep state employees healthy.
All employees are required to certify whether they, or anyone covered on their insurance, are tobacco users. To be eligible for the lower premium, a non-tobacco user is someone who has not used tobacco within the past six months. Tobacco use is classified as smoking tobacco in such forms as a cigarette, pipe or cigar, or using smokeless tobacco, such as snuff or chewing tobacco (nicotine chewing gum is excluded).
There are two ways to complete this certification:
1. Log on to MyBenefits by Nov. 15 to complete the certification online. Be sure to print a copy of the completed certification for your records. You will need the Benefits Identification Number from your insurance card if you are registering for the first time.
2. Complete and return the Certification Regarding Tobacco Use form to the Employee Insurance Program by Nov. 15. You can also obtain a hard copy of the form from university or medical center human resources. The original must be sent to the address on the bottom of the form. Be sure to keep a copy of the completed certification for your records.
If you fail to complete the certification you will automatically be charged the tobacco-user premium that includes the $25 surcharge. Once the certification is completed, the lower premium will be effective the first of the month after you complete the certification.

If a subscriber certifies that all dependents covered are non-tobacco users and it is determined that you or any of your covered dependents have used tobacco products within the past six months or started using tobacco products after the date of your certification as non-tobacco user(s), and you did not notify EIP, you will be subject to penalties including, but not limited to:

  • Payment of the additional $25 surcharge, plus a 10-percent penalty, for each month since your last certification.
  • Elimination of the out-of-pocket maximum for the current and the subsequent year.

  Help is always available for those who want to quit using tobacco:

  • MUSC employees are eligible to participate in the “MUSC Quit Now...For Life!” smoking cessation program offered by Dr. Robert Mallin and promoted by Health1st, the MUSC Employee Wellness Program. To register, e-mail
  • State Health Plan and BlueChoice HealthPlan subscribers and their covered dependents can participate in the Free & Clear  Quit for Life Program by calling 866-QUIT-4-LIFE (866-784-8454).
  • CIGNA HMO subscribers can call 866-417-7848 to participate in the CIGNA Quit Today Smoking Cessation Program.

Once a subscriber and their covered dependents have been tobacco-free for at least six months, the subscriber can apply for the non-tobacco-user premium by completing the Certification Regarding Tobacco Use form.
Visit for a link to a Web page on the tobacco surcharge and certification. There you will find additional information, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions and certification instructions. For more information, call EIP Customer Service at 803-734-0678 (Greater Columbia area) or at 888-260-9430 (toll-free outside the Columbia area).

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.