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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This reminds me of the "Salem Witch" hunt and Germany burning books and the Holocaust. over religion. I've been reading the comments of people wanting to "oust " the smokers. Make them [Smokers] pay more for their habits. But, what I see is our freedoms and liberties are being taken away. Lawmakers has begun with the smokers with "penalties" and now campaigning against the obese. (Their penalties will probably be coming soon). Next penalties will probably be the alcoholics and so on. So those that think that this legislation is not going to effect you- well give it time and it will. To mandate health insurance and then penalized one group is discrimination and therefore taking away each persons liberties and freedom.
Note: Discrimination "thou shall not discriminate against race, religion, and age" but can discriminate against everything else ? I wonder where your priorities are.
Will Obamacare force more smokers to quit? No! He will only cause descent people to brake the Obamacare law and refuse pay the healthcare mandates. Prohibition and equal rights all over.
What he said:
He says we NEED healthcare reform because of his list of 8 things (preexisting conditions, bla bla bla) and that 30K people, most of whom can afford insurance of are here illegally are without HC. He says we can keep our doctor (yeah right).
What we will get:
He out laws catastrophic care insurance (that covers you only if you get a disease or get in an accident) for cheap price
He taxes the heck out of medical device manufacturers.
He makes you pay for services you will never use (50 year old guy pays for mammogram)
Smokers get hosed.
Thanks a lot OBAMA VOTERS.
So wait, couldn't you smoke all your life, forego insurance and pay the small penalty, then quit smoking or start a cessation program when you get diagnosed with lung cancer and pick up insurance because they can't discriminate against a pre-existing condition?
Yes, the US govt. still subsidizes tobacco farmers.
Tobacco Reform Act of 2004:
"Section 623 of the Act provides that USDA will offer to enter into a contract with an eligible tobacco producer (Grower) under which the Grower may receive total payments of up to $3 per pound of quota in 10 equal annual payments in fiscal years 2005 through 2014 (Grower Payments)
Section 622 of the Act provides that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer to enter into a contract with an eligible tobacco quota holder (Owner) under which the Owner may receive total payments of $7 per pound of quota in 10 equal annual payments in fiscal years 2005 through 2014 (Owner Payments)."
If this is true, then can't a smoker sue the insurance company for being racist against smokers? Just wondering since my black lungs will be penalized over your pink ones....
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