During the 2021 Open Enrollment period, you must certify your status as a tobacco user or non-user, as well as the status of any dependents (age 18+) enrolled in your University System of Georgia (USG) healthcare plan through OneUSG Connect – Benefits. Employees enrolled in a USG healthcare plan and their covered dependents (age 18+) will be charged a $100 per tobacco user per month surcharge for using tobacco products. No refunds will be given.
A reasonable alternative is made available during the certification process for individuals who would like to become non-tobacco users. This allows 90 days to complete a tobacco cessation program. Tobacco cessation programs are available at no cost to you and your dependents. Please contact these helpful resources for tobacco cessation programs.
If you become a non-tobacco user or complete a tobacco cessation program under the reasonable alternative option, please call the OneUSG Connect – Benefits Call Center at 1-844-587-4236 (1-844-5-USGBEN) to change your status.
What is considered a tobacco product?
The term “tobacco products” refers to any tobacco product including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes and any other smoking devices that use tobacco such as hookahs, or simulate the use of tobacco, such as electronic cigarettes.
Why do I need to certify?
During your enrollment period, if you enroll in a USG medical plan, you must certify that neither you nor your dependents (age 18+) are tobacco users. Otherwise, each will default to a tobacco users, and a $100 monthly surcharge, added to your monthly premium. Additionally, the status of any covered dependents (age 18+) will also default to a “tobacco user” and an additional $100 surcharge on your monthly premium will apply per enrolled person. No refunds will be give.
|Status||Certified as a Tobacco User||Certified as a Non-Tobacco User|
|Covered Dependents (age 18+)||Pays||Doesn’t Pay|
When do I need to certify?
During your Open Enrollment or new hire enrollment period.
How do I certify?
You are required to certify by logging in to your account through the portal at oneusgconnect.usg.edu. On the Benefits tab, click on My Benefits, or you can certify by calling the OneUSG Connect - Benefits Call Center at 1-844-587-4236 (1-844-5-USGBEN) during your enrollment period.
How much will a tobacco user pay?
The monthly tobacco-user surcharge is $100 per enrolled dependent (age 18+). Each month you will pay between $100—$300 (or more in some cases) in additional tobacco surcharges, depending on how many people are covered by your USG healthcare plan. No refunds will be given.
If I’m a new hire that was hired during or after open enrollment, will I or my covered dependents be defaulted?
As a benefits eligible new hire, if hired during or after open enrollment, you will receive two enrollment events to complete. The first, will be your new hire benefit enrollment event in which you will not be defaulted. However, the second event, will be your open enrollment event in which you and/or your dependents (age 18+) will be defaulted as tobacco users if no action is taken on this event. You must act on your second event within the two week timeframe allowed after your new hire event closes.
I am a new employee, hired on or after January 1, 2020, will I be defaulted to a tobacco user if I choose a USG healthcare plan?
As a new employee in 2020, you and your dependents will not be defaulted as tobacco users. However, you are expected to accurately certify whether or not you and your dependents (age 18+) are tobacco users.
What if I falsely certify my Tobacco Use Status?
Please be advised that when you certify your tobacco use, you are attesting that the information is true and correct to the best of your knowledge. USG expects employees to uphold the highest standards of intellectual honesty and integrity in compliance with the USG Ethics policy, and therefore, you should respond honestly in regard to your tobacco use status.
If you knowingly and willfully make a false or fraudulent statement to the University System of Georgia regarding your insurance coverage, including your status as a tobacco user, you may be subject to criminal prosecution. Under state law (at O.C.G.A Section 16-10-20), if you are convicted, you shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or both.
How do I get help if I want to quit using tobacco?
Tobacco cessation programs are available at no cost to you and your dependents. Please contact these helpful resources for more information.
What if I am a new employee hired in 2020 and a tobacco user? What are my options to quit and have the surcharge removed?
Each employee is expected to accurately certify his or her tobacco status. If you or your dependents (18+) are tobacco users, certify accordingly. If you are a tobacco user that intends to complete one of the above tobacco cessation programs to quit the use of tobacco, you are required to submit the USG Online Tobacco Use Certification Form within 30 days of your hire date in order to have the surcharge waived while you’re enrolled in a cessation program.
|Status||Open Enrollment Action||Cessation Program||Take Action||Surcharge|
|Certified-Non User||Actively Certified as a NON-Tobacco User||N/A||N/A||Surcharge(s) will not be applied|
|Certified User - does not intend to quit||Default or Actively Certified as a Tobacco User||Does not complete program by 12/31/2020||N/A||Surcharge(s) applies effective 1/1/2021|
|Certified User - intends to quit before 1/1/2020||Default or Actively Certified as a Tobacco User||Completes program by 12/31/2020||Provides Cessation Certificate & contacts OneUSG Connect – Benefits to change status.||Surcharge(s) removed; there will be no charge in 2021|
|Certified User -quits after 1/1/2021||Default or Actively Certified as a Tobacco User||Does not complete program by 12/31/2020||Provides Cessation Certificate & contacts OneUSG Connect – Benefits to change status.||Surcharge(s) removed the 1st of the month following completion of both|
|Certified User- quits after 1/1/2021 without Cessation course||Default or Actively Certified as a Tobacco User||N/A||Contacts OneUSG Connect – Benefits to change status.||Surcharge(s) removed the 1st of the month following completion three (3) months of no use and contacts OneUSG Connect – Benefits to change status.|
|Defaulted User- forgot to certify||Default by mistake/ Not a Tobacco user||N/A||Contacts OneUSG Connect – Benefits to change status.||Surcharge(s) removed the 1st of the month following contact OneUSG Connect – Benefits to change status.|
What if I quit or someone I cover quits using tobacco products during the year outside of the my Open Enrollment period without completion of a cessation program?
If you or your dependent’s Tobacco Use Status changes at any time during the plan year while you are enrolled in a USG healthcare plan, and you and/or your dependent is tobacco-free for three months without completion of a cessation program, you will notify OneUSG Connect – Benefits to change status. within 30 days.
USG Tobacco User/Non-Tobacco User Definitions:
Do our USG healthcare plans cover prescription drugs that can help me quit using tobacco?
The University System of Georgia is providing coverage for over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription smoking cessation products. This will include nicotine gum, lozenges, and patches that are available as OTC items as well as some prescription products like Chantix and Zyban. This will be covered under the USG healthcare plans at a $0 copay amount for these smoking cessation products. All OTC smoking cessation products must have a prescription written from a physician to have the $0 copay. Contact your physician to see if any of these items are right for you.
What if I start using tobacco products again after certifying as a non-tobacco user?
Change your certification status within 30 days of your status change by calling the OneUSG Connect - Benefits Call Center at 1-844-587-4236 (1-844-5 USGBEN).
What if I know someone who certified as a non-tobacco user actually uses tobacco?
Each employee covered by a USG healthcare plan is responsible for the tobacco use certification. If an employee does not correctly certify their status, the employee is at risk of penalty, fraud investigation, or termination.