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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If this passes, then I will personally smack the cigarette out of anyone's mouth that isn't paying their own insurance. And then, we can go after the winos and any of the poor that are eating fast food.
Socialism is taking over. Are we all blind. Smokers are already taxed heavily, If you drink = More taxes - People who smoke and drink pay more taxes than anyone else. Why is "my" government trying to force me to change how I choose to live. I thought that our forefathers wrote the constitution to keep the government from doing exactly what they are doing.
So, here's the question--
What is considered a smoker? What is an ex-smoker? Someone that's been quit for a day, a week, a month, or what?
Where will the insurance companies draw the line?
We all know that Obama smokes but guess what.. He and his cronies are EXEMPT from Obama care. They don't have to suffer the consequences of a health care system that will dictate what a person can or cannot do and will put a horrible financial burden on their families. AND look what it has done to the companies that had to cut back on employees because of the cost. Yes, I agree with the folks that stated in the previous posts... You voted him in... Thanks ALOT!
I dont think its smoking I think its polution and this made up crap that smoking is the reason that people cant breath. The Big three pushes it on smoking and not the real cause exhaust from autos when your sitting in traffic jams by the way Id like to thank the state of Minnesota for sueing tobaco companies for me without my permission then I dont see any of the monies from it Basicly my opinion is lets just get it over with time to take down big brother who has no intention of looking out for me.
Obamacare is starting to show its true colors; being that it's also apparently a manipulative tool for whatever agenda our government wishes to pursue, it now has a finacial the means by which to impose anything it wants upon us.
Moreover, weren't the excessive sales taxes already being imposed upon smokers suppose to take care of those costs?
What's next, drugs, alcohol, the type of work you do, where you live (Chicago), your political affiliation.
Welcome socialism; good-bye free market, the Obama tail is starting to wag the US dog!
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