Will Obamacare force more smokers to quit?
The Affordable Care Act will impose large insurance surcharges on tobacco users. But people in smoking-cessation programs will get a break.
Obamacare bans higher premiums or the denial of health coverage because of pre-existing conditions. But one group will still find themselves penalized: smokers.
The new measures in the Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect next January, would allow health insurance companies to charge tobacco users up to 50% more for individual policies. And the costs of that rate hike would come entirely out of smokers’ pockets.
A recent Associated Press report notes those surcharges, nearly $4,250 a year on top of premiums for a 55-year-old smoker and close to $5,100 for a 60-year-old, could impose a heavy financial burden on individuals with a tobacco habit "at a time in life when smoking-related illnesses tend to emerge."
The ACA penalties could give added incentive to companies looking to sidestep smokers as potential employees.
Smoker protection laws already exist in 29 states and the District of Columbia, but that might be changing. Oklahoma, for example, is considering a bill that would repeal those laws. "These are the kinds of protections you’d think we have for race and gender, not smokers," State Sen. David Holt told KFOR-TV. "Just as a smoker has made a choice, employers ought to be able to make choices too."
Nearly 20% of people in the United States smoke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking also kills more than 440,000 people in the U.S. annually while costing the economy more than $193 billion each year in lost productivity and health care expenditures. And it says secondhand smoke costs -- from healthcare expenditures as well as illness and premature death -- amount to another $10 billion.
Analysts say those statistics, along with the ACA penalties, are causing the insurance industry to look even closer at smokers.
"If you are an insurer and there is a group of smokers you don't want in your pool, the ones you really don't want are the ones who have been smoking for 20 or 30 years," Karen Pollitz, insurance market expert with the Kaiser Family Foundation, told AP. "You would have the flexibility to discourage them."
But there is optimism the ACA measures could also help more smokers kick the habit. The CDC says more than two-thirds of all smokers want to quit completely. And the American Lung Association notes all new private insurance plans under the ACA must cover treatments to help smokers quit smoking.
And as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog points out,, ACA wouldn’t allow insurers to apply the full penalty against a smoker enrolled in a quit-smoking program.
"We don't want to create barriers for people to get health care coverage," California state Assemblyman Richard Pan told AP. "We want people who are smoking to get smoking cessation treatment.”
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Not very bright if you continue to smoke.
That's about it.
iF YOU had a cigarette in 1986....And then died in (NC or Cancer) 2012, the Healthcare System blames it on smoking or second hand smoke...
They are using excuses for their ineptness in doing their jobs, correctly..Lack of Education.
Ca Ca.....Smokers have paid Billions in taxes into the Governmental Systems for years...
And then AGs, Governmental, and Individuals sued Tobacco Companies for Billions more...
Monies were to go for SMOKER'S Health problems..And cessation,prevention programs...
ASK YOUR GOVERNMENT, WHERE THAT MONEY IS AT ????
YOU REALLY AREN'T VERY BRIGHT, ARE YOU ?
I can't wait untill all the young people who normally would not buy health insurance, get their first bill for the mandatory requirement.
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
I think are Commander and Chief needs to live up to his word.
These is not what I would call a free Country with the right to pursue happiness.
To bad his health care only protects the Pharmaceutical Companies.
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While caffeine unquestionably improves focus, it blocks the ability to let the mind wander and form original ideas.
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