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Whirlpool is struggling with its employees
in Evansville as it tries to keep a lid on escalating health care costs.
The company says it has caught a few dozen of them smoking. That wouldnâ??t be a problem had the employees not signed forms
saying they didnâ??t smoke, which saved them a $500 penalty on their health insurance.
Now those employeesâ?? days at the refrigerator plant are probably numbered.
Employers are reluctant to penalize smokers because it can kill morale. Clarian Health backed off on a proposed penalty after
workers complained the policy was negative.
Ned Lamkin, a retired Indianapolis physician and president of the Indiana Employers Quality Health Alliance, says employers
are fidgeting as they decide how much they want to intrude into workersâ?? lives.
Expect many more companies to take Whirlpoolâ??s approach, Lamkin says. Health care simply has become too expensive for companies
to ignore unhealthy lifestyles.
Once employers get comfortable with penalties for smoking, theyâ??ll shift to monitoring blood pressure and other measures to
improve health and ultimately cut costs.
â??Whirlpool may be kind of the crack in the nut,â?? Lamkin says. â??Once that crack gets big enough, other employers will follow
Do you think employees should be penalized for smoking?