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Health Insurance for Smokers

Posted June 29, 2013 | Filed under topic High Risk Health Insurance

In 1984, smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or using smokeless tobacco began to be factors in the cost of health insurance – a big, expensive factor. Since then obtaining reasonably priced health insurance for smokers has been difficult.

With smoking linked to cancer, emphysema, heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure, insurance companies could no longer swallow the affect that it was having on their costs. Thus, smokers’ rates began to go up – smoker’s rates can be as much as 65% higher than normal rates.

Obviously, the most effective way of eliminating the problem is to quit smoking. What many people do not realize, however, is that nicotine is tremendously addictive. reports that 26% of smokers began losing control after smoking just 3-4 cigarettes, and that 44% started down that path after smoking 5-9 cigarettes.

All that does not mean smokers cannot quit. But it is very difficult. There are a myriad of methods for quitting, but more people successfully quit smoking cold turkey than with all the other methods combined. At the same time, fewer than 7% of those who try to quit are successful more than one year.

But why is that rate so small? Because the addiction is so big. The New York Times quoted psychology professor Dr. Sharon Hall from the University of California’s San Francisco medical school, who works on methods of stopping drug abuse, as saying that,

Heroin addicts say it easier to give up dope than it is give up smoking.

Starting January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums. With 1 in 5 adults being smokers in the U.S., many older people will face huge insurance increases – perhaps to the point of not being able to afford having health insurance. States can lower the percentage, but whether that will happen or not is anybody’s guess.

Currently, smokers who have quit for a set amount of time, say one year, can qualify for lower rates with some health insurance companies. For those still smoking, they will have to take the time and explore coverage with several companies to find their best deal. They probably won’t find many bargains.

Trying to talk your way out of the higher rates likely won’t work. Some companies require blood tests to qualify for their health insurance, and they will find out if you are lying about quitting.
Chewing tobacco is less risky than smoking, but it is not without its dangers. Insurance companies sometimes treat the two addictions separately, which means chewers may not pay as much as smokers.

In conclusion, smokers are going to pay more for health insurance in almost every instance. However, they at least can purchase insurance, which certainly is a good idea.

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