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
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.
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
- 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 http://www.eip.sc.gov 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