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Should health insurance companies cover smokers?

woman with glasses health insurance coverage for smokersMany Americans agree that health insurance companies should charge smokers higher rates than non-smokers because there are many dangers associated with cigarette smoking. Not only are there environmental issues to consider, but according to the data found by the American Cancer Society cigarette smoking is a major contributing factor to preventable lung and throat cancer.

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Another reason why health insurance companies charge smokers a higher insurance rate is second hand smoke. Second hand smoke presents a health hazard to anyone in constant contact and can cause major health complications for small children and the elderly. This type of information is weighed heavily when you apply for health insurance.

If you are the head of household and are a smoker, you may be charged a higher health insurance premium for not only yourself, but also every additional person you list on your policy. This is because as a smoker, you may be subjecting everyone in your home to future medical issues, like asthma or bronchitis.

Your health insurance company must consider this when offering you a policy because medical care may become necessary based on something that is deemed, preventable.

Do all smokers automatically pay more?

The amount of money you pay either per month or per year is dependent on your current health condition as well as those you are covering and your health care history.

There are hundreds of health insurance companies that will provide you with sufficient coverage at a comparable rate if you are a smoker, but you may have restrictions and limits. You may also have a very large deductible that you will be responsible for paying.

Your policy may also have various loopholes that will pay minimally for certain medical services or procedures that relate directly to smoking, like emphysema, or lung cancer. Some health insurance companies may even deny you coverage because you are a smoker.

Lately however, health insurance companies are beginning to review their current practices in light of the new Affordable Health Care Act. Once fully activated in 2014, you will no longer be penalized or denied health insurance coverage because of being a smoker or any other preexisting situation or condition.

Why do smokers cost their employers more money than non-smokers do?

Smokers cost their employers thousands of dollars each week for many different reasons. A smoker uses more sick time than a non-smoker does and smokers are more expensive to insure. Additionally, many businesses must offset their losses caused by smokers. This often means passing the expenses to other employees by increasing their insurance costs.

To assist with this growing problem, employers have recently started to deny employment to smokers. They are also starting to terminate employees who lie on their health insurance applications when asked if they smoke or present false information to their health care providers.

Many other employers have taken to creating incentive programs for smokers to urge them to quit. These small changes help to decrease health care costs and increase profits and productivity; smokers also take more unscheduled breaks during the day than non-smokers.

Will my rates be lowered if I stop smoking?

The benefits of you quitting smoking will be immediate; your health insurance rates may take a little longer. You will be eligible for lower rates once you have stopped smoking, but you should make sure you understand what you are responsible for reporting to your insurance agency.

Your policy should have all of the information you need to begin your fact-finding but your best resource is a representative from your health insurance company. If you know you are going to stop smoking, call them, and ask about any programs in which you may be able to participate. Find out if you are qualified for a reduction in your rate too.

Once you have been given the specifics, you should set a date and begin your program. Make sure you keep track in a journal or diary. Your insurance company may need this information when you follow-up after you hit the goal. Make sure you complete the steps to the letter so you will qualify for the discount or rate reduction.

Being a smoker is a public and private hazard and can cause your finances to suffer needlessly. If you are considering purchasing health insurance coverage, or you have health insurance coverage already remember you control the costs. You can easily reduce your premium by quitting today.

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