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Smokers Officially Become Second-Class Citizens January 25, 2013

Posted by geoff in News.

As we continue to find out what’s in the Affordable Care Act, it continues to deliver little surprises. But there aren’t any surprises concerning its overall effect – as we all had predicted before it was passed, it won’t “bend the cost curve” and it will increase insurance costs and/or degrade health care for the majority of those who are already insured.

With the President’s promise of “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” still ringing in our ears, today we discover that the 20% of adult Americans who smoke are going to take it in the shorts:

Millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties in President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to experts who are just now teasing out the potential impact of a little-noted provision in the massive legislation.

The Affordable Care Act allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.

For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.

But wait, maybe it’s not so bad:

Starting next Jan. 1, the federal health care law will make it possible for people who can’t get coverage now to buy private policies, providing tax credits to keep the premiums affordable.

All right, smokers may not be as screwed as I thought

…government tax credits that will be available to help pay premiums cannot be used to offset the cost of penalties for smokers.

Nope. They’re screwed.


1. OBF - January 25, 2013

Smokers or smokers and chewers?

How do you know who is smoking?

How about if you just smoke a little? (after all I’m not as young as I once was.)

2. geoff - January 25, 2013

How about if you just smoke a little?


3. Nan G - January 25, 2013

Obviously there are going to be a lot of liars in the healthcare system.
“I have NO IDEA why I have this persistent cough, doctor!”
If over 60% of all smokes in NY state are bought under the radar of state taxes, how easily could those who smoke them lie about doing so?
What’s a doctor to do? Rat him out?

4. drewcwsj - January 25, 2013

How long until medical insurance companies follow the life insurance model and test for smoking, and any other behaviors they can charge more for, when you sign up for a new policy?

5. lauraw - January 26, 2013

No, it is very easy for insurance companies even now, to find all the smokers. Yes, they do already know that people lie like rugs about their cigarette smoking.

Any urine test, a common prerequisite for coverage, will show positive for nicotine. And then the moment that is reported to the Medical Info Bureau, you are branded for years. If you think it’s hard to quit, you should try proving you are no longer a smoker. You have to be smoke-free for a year and prove it. Somehow.
It’s already a pain in the ass. This just gets the feds on your ass about it, too.

“I just smoke a little,” is a non-starter with these folks. Cigar, pipe, chew, doesn’t matter. Because they can’t actually prove how you are getting your nicotine or at what rate or which form makes you sicker.

And also, they assume you’re lying. Which you probably are. Liar.

6. daveintexas - January 26, 2013

Already hit with this premium for 2013.

So now I can add $50 x 26 premiums to the $2,400 estimate of cost of smokes. $3,700. A car payment.

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