One of the really sad things about health care is that so far there are only some state laws and no federal laws that require employers to offer health care benefits for employees. As a nation, we are all hopeful that a future administration will resolve the health care benefits issue so that it becomes fair for everyone—employer and employee.
One of the most prevalent problems in health care benefits is the huge increase in premiums that employers and employees must pay to receive even the most minimal of insurance coverage. These prices undergo annual increases that eliminate any raise or cost of living increase the employee may have gotten. With no end of these increases in sight, some employers are eliminating this benefit altogether or trying to find other lower-cost alternatives. One of the most recent methods that employers are taking to lower insurance costs is to penalize those employees who do things that may or may not affect their health, specifically smoking or being overweight.
The federal law under Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 does not allow discrimination based a person’s disability. Additionally, other federal and state laws have carved out bases of discrimination—things that an employer cannot base terminations or disciplinary actions on. None of these laws protect the rights of smokers or people who are overweight, so they have become the latest targets.