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Health insurance to burn smokers

By Jay MacDonald ·
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Posted: 10 am ET

If you're a smoker, this would be an excellent year to kick the habit.

One of the less contentious provisions of health care reform allows health insurance companies to jack the premiums on individual policyholders who smoke by up to 50 percent beginning next January.

Come Jan. 1, 2014, you can no longer be denied coverage because of your gender, weight, health or lifestyle under health care reform.

But if you don't give up smoking, your health insurance could get awfully expensive by this time next year. A 55-year-old smoker could be looking at a premium hike of $4,250 per year, while the smoker's penalty for a 60-year-old could approach $5,100, according to The Associated Press.

Unfair, you say? Consider this: According to a 2011 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, employees who smoke cost their employer's insurance plan more than $10,000 in additional expenses and more than $5,000 in extra premiums annually. Who's picking up that bill? You guessed it: nonsmoking co-workers.

Little wonder that a growing number of employers, especially in health care, are turning down job applicants who smoke and are imposing no-smoking policies inside and outside the office, despite laws in 29 states and the District of Columbia that prohibit discrimination against smokers.

In the big picture, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes 443,000 premature deaths and costs the nation $193 billion in health bills and lost productivity every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Who picks up that bill? We all do, whether we smoke or not.

Younger smokers won't be hit as hard as older smokers by the coming insurance rate hikes under rules proposed last fall by President Barack Obama's administration. And the federal law does permit states to limit or change the smoking penalty as they see fit.

On the bright side, thanks to the broad expansion of preventive care services under the Affordable Care Act, it's pretty easy to find a smoking cessation program through your insurer or employer these days that won't cost you a dime out of pocket.

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J. Wiegard
January 31, 2013 at 8:48 am

Steve Walker, I've been asking that question for a long time now.
The Government would be scrambling to find somthing else to tax.
I wish every smoker in the U.S. could stop buying smokes for just one month and see how much money the govt. would be out.

January 31, 2013 at 8:31 am

Controlled and divided shills. Americans can be persuaded to hate each other so easily. Jokes on you. Fools.

January 31, 2013 at 8:30 am

We are Americans too. No one in my family smokes, yet a large amount of insurance fees come out of the paycheck that feeds my kids.

If you expose yourself to a substance that has been proven to lead to any number of cancers, heart disease, etc. then you should pay more. Most of the arguments here have been about the right to choose. If you choose tabacco, then you choose to expose yourself to harm, so you will now have to choose if you are willing to pay for it. Choice involves taking the responsibility of ALL the consequences. YOU jack up the rates - you should be the ones to pay. You want to be treated with respect as adults. Adults pay for there own consequences. Why should my family pay so much insurance? You get to choose, but my family is forced to pay for it. No! I'm not holier than thou. I'm tired of you using my family's money to do what you choose to do. Let us take care of our kids without having to pay for you. You fuss that government is too deeply imbedded in your home - well, your choice of tobacco is affecting our home. Get out of our pocketbook. Let US choose how to spend insurance money that could be used in our home for our children. Why doesn't my American family get to choose how to spend that money?

Steve Walker
January 31, 2013 at 8:25 am

what happen's to all the program's that are tied to cigarette taxes when everybody quits ?

Beverly Burns
January 31, 2013 at 7:07 am

Slick, get your burgers at Wendys--much better and more healthy--LOL

Beverly Burns
January 31, 2013 at 7:02 am

Slick, No can do. Too close. The smoke would come into my home also. Wish I could do this but I can't.

January 31, 2013 at 6:27 am


January 31, 2013 at 6:22 am

i say to this light up a smoke..have a drink..and eat a whopper..and think..I DID IT MY WAY......

Beverly Burns
January 31, 2013 at 6:10 am

So your neighbor can smoke you out of your house using his home make woodburner and nothing can be done--much more of a health hazzard than cigarettes. I live in Pa. and have tried every avenue to stop it besides taking him to court and filing a nuicences suit wich is very expensive.

Beverly Burns
January 31, 2013 at 6:02 am

Well, what if your neighbor has a homemade woodburner in his basement that is about fourteen feet from your home and his chimney is three feet below the peek of his roof. We both live in single story homes and I have been fighting this health hazzard for eight years. I live in Pa. and no one can help me. The DEP the EPA the Borough council the Zoning officer the Borough Police the Board of health or the Senators in our area. Now what can you do?? I even had my lawyer tell him I would pay to raise the chimney but he refused because he could not torture me as he did the previous owner who was over 80 yrs. old and legally blind!! Now are they going to raise my premiums too. This is worse than smoking a cigarette.. It is all thru my home int the winter months. Who can I turn to?? He has a newer energy efficient gas furnace--get the picture? It means I would have to take him to court and file a Nuicence Suit costing between 1,500 and 5,000 or more and I am disabled. I am at my wit's end. If anybody has any suggestions let me know.