- Smokers disproportionately have lower incomes, so a premium surcharge would hit them especially hard. Tax credits to help pay for health insurance cannot be used for the tobacco surcharge. The additional cost would discourage smokers from buying health insurance.
- The health law requires many plans to cover FDA-approved smoking cessation services as a preventive care benefit. According to advocates, charging more means fewer smokers would be able to take advantage of the tools and services to help them quit.
Originally posted August 01, 2013 by Mick Constantinou on http://analytics.ubabenefits.com Provisions under the Affordable Care Act allow health insurers to charge smokers 50 percent higher premiums than nonsmokers for new individual policies sold beginning in 2014. The question now is whether the final ruling on the tobacco surcharge will have the teeth necessary to promote healthier lifestyles. In terms of the exchange application process, applicants will only need to attest whether they are or are not a smoker without further verification. Additionally, the final rules prevent insurers from rescinding a policy or denying coverage because someone was not “honest” about whether they are a smoker or not. Insurers can only charge “dishonest” policyholders for any surcharge amount that should have been paid that year. Consumer advocates weighed in on the implementation of a tobacco surcharge and indicated that charging smokers more for health insurance was counterproductive for a variety of reasons: