Obama Administration Gives Smokers A Way Out Of Higher Insurance Premiums

United States (KaiserHealth) – The Obama administration on Tuesday effectively nullified a provision of the federal health law that would have allowed insurers in the small group market to charge smokers up to 50 percent more than nonsmokers.

Under the proposed regulation, employees who use tobacco can avoid paying those higher premiums if they participate in a program to quit. The regulation also allows states to eliminate higher rates for smokers altogether.

“This was the administration making lemonade out of lemons in the law,” said Erika Sward, assistant vice president at the American Lung Association, which had argued that charging smokers higher premiums would deter people from buying insurance without reducing smoking.

“We find carrots work better than sticks in helping people quit smoking,” Sward said.

Erin Reidy, associate director of policy at the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, also praised the rule, saying she hopes the administration applies it to people who buy their own insurance.

“The regulation encourages smokers to seek the help of proven services to help them quit by ensuring that smokers who enroll in tobacco cessation programs pay the same rates as nonsmokers,” she said.

But Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, a research and advocacy organization on employment issues, criticized the rule as “a dumb idea” that was likely to rankle employers and insurers.

“The penalty is kind of a joke if all you do is have to take a course and then can go back to smoking,” he said.

Even a smokers’ rights group gave the regulation mixed reviews.

“To hear there was a pullback of higher rates for smokers is welcome news,” said Audrey Silk, founder of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. But she said smokers may object to having to take a class. “This is like forced behavior modification. It’s like blackmail.”

– Provided by Kaiser Health News.

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  1. Marshall_Keith

    Wow how generous since smokers actually cost society less not more. It is damn generous to let us pay less if we attempt to conform to your ideals.

    “LONDON — Preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it does not save money, according to a new report.

    It costs more to care for healthy people who live years longer, according to a Dutch study that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars.

    “It was a small surprise,” said Pieter van Baal, an economist at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, who led the study. “But it also makes sense. If you live longer, then you cost the health system more.”

    In a paper published online Monday in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal, Dutch researchers found that the health costs of thin and healthy people in adulthood are more expensive than those of either fat people or smokers.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/health/05iht-obese.1.9748884.html

    But again thankyou for trying to infringe your sensibilities on the rest of us!

    • artbylisabelle

      There is far more revenue in a dying populous, than a healthy one with longevity.
      “THE BABY BOOMERS” Investments in the end of life game, including, smoking related diseases, of course they hate the electronic cigarette a two billion dollar industry, saving the health of a large segment of the world’s population. There is far more profit in forcing them to continue smoking and then to need pharmaceuticals to die from it!!! Vaping is a revolution!

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