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Random testing of state workers is not cost effective

An analysis of the Tennessee state health plan by HealthLeaders-InterStudy includes several interesting notes relevant to North Carolina’s State Health Plan wellness provisions.

Tennessee is planning to levy a surcharge on smoking state employees — although the timing of the charge could get delayed until 2011. In many ways Tennessee has a fairer program than the one proposed in North Carolina. Our neighbor across the mountains, for example, is not going to randomly test employees because it is not cost effective.

Indiana has a program where non-smoking workers can get a premium discount and subject themselves to possible testing. Studies in Indiana have found only a 5 percent misrepresentation rate. That means that if you ask people to declare their smoking status about 95 percent will tell the truth.

As HealthLeaders notes [this report is not publicly available by the way]:

Tennessee decided randomized testing would simply not be cost-effective and that self-reported rates of tobacco use in Cover Tennessee are consistent with known tobacco use rates. He said there were also concerns about privacy.

North Carolina is not likely to net savings from its smoking program because it will cost so much to implement and administer. Other states have figured this out.

Let’s hope members of the General Assembly take action before the State Health Plan is saddled with more costs and state employees have their privacy — and their cheeks — violated.

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