Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Price of smoking could increase under ACA

Courtesy of Health Policy Solutions
Depending on the plans they choose, smokers and other tobacco users who enroll in health insurance plans in Colorado could pay up to 15 percent more in premiums than nonsmokers. But questions remain about whether they will be truthful when they sign up for plans and how they’ll know about the benefits their insurance offers if they want to quit.

The federal law allows health insurance companies to charge tobacco users up to 50 percent more in premiums. But the law also requires that the surcharge be eliminated if tobacco users sign up for cessation counseling. Counseling programs and medications such as patches, gum and other nicotine replacement therapies are covered at no charge.

Colorado limits the tobacco surcharge to 15 percent and allows carriers to charge less. The 15 percent was permitted for small groups before the passage of the bill that aligns the state health insurance law with federal requirements.

Carriers whose Colorado insurance plans have been approved for 2014 run the gamut in surcharges from 0 to 15 percent. Supporters of the surcharge say it’s necessary due to the cost of treating medical conditions associated with tobacco use.

In Colorado, medical expenditures attributed to smoking totaled $1.6 billion a year, according to a 2010 study by Pennsylvania State University. That’s about $2,385 per smoker a year.
By Jane Hoback
For the rest of the story, go to Health Policy Solutions.

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