The Edmond Sun

Features

July 21, 2013

The smoker dilemma for health insurance

Since smokers' health-care costs tend to be higher than those of nonsmokers, is it reasonable for smokers to pay higher premiums when they buy insurance through the new state marketplaces that are scheduled to open in October? A handful of states and the District of Columbia say the answer is no.

"We decided it's not in the good interests of our people" to charge smokers more, says Mohammad Akhter, chairman of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority, which is developing the District's online marketplace.

Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, health insurers are allowed to charge smokers 50 percent higher premiums than nonsmokers for new policies sold to individuals and small employer groups.

States have the option to reduce or eliminate the variation in rates, however, and six states and the District have opted not to charge smokers more, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. A few others have limited the premium differential to less than 50 percent. Virginia will apply the full 50 percent surcharge.

Consumer advocates say charging smokers more for health insurance may be counterproductive.

"There's no evidence that charging someone a higher premium will discourage them from smoking," says Dick Woodruff, vice president of federal relations at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

It might, however, discourage someone from buying health insurance, experts say. The health law requires many plans to cover FDA-approved smoking cessation services such as counseling and medication as a preventive benefit without charging consumers anything out of pocket. If health insurance coverage seems too expensive, fewer smokers will be able to take advantage of tools to help them quit, Woodruff says.

Experts say that smokers disproportionately have lower incomes, so that a premium surcharge will hit them especially hard. Tax credits to help pay for health insurance are available to people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual in 2013). But the tax credit can't be used for the tobacco surcharge.

Text Only
Features
  • Shopping smarter for family necessities can help the environment

    There’s a growing trend among consumers to make choices reflecting the goals and values that matter to them most.  In fact, two out of five people say they’re more inspired to try a natural product that does something good for themselves, their family and the planet, according to a recent study conducted by Toluna for natural products brand Tom’s of Maine.

    July 21, 2014

  • Back to school lunch Build a better bag

    Brown bag lunches and back to school go hand in hand. As you’re gearing up for the start of a new school year, it’s the perfect time to stock the pantry with healthy sack lunch options and after school snacks, too.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pets

    This is a list of animals that have been found and are at the Edmond Animal Shelter, at Interstate 35 and Covell in the Cross Timbers Municipal Complex. Call the shelter at 216-7615 for more information.

    July 21, 2014

  • Kids Cook Simple ways canned foods get children cooking

    When it comes to teaching children about healthy eating habits, there’s no better classroom than the kitchen.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls The Canebrake offers summer recipe for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls

    The Canebrake, a destination hotel and spa in Wagoner, is offering the following recipe from its restaurant for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls with Avocado Wasabi Puree.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 21, 2014

  • Quilt Edmond Quilt Guild celebrates 10th anniversary with event

    Quilting has evolved over the years and now, more than ever it is looked at as an art form.
    Edmond’s Quilt Guild is sponsoring its fourth quilt show and festival celebrating its 10th anniversary at the same time this week and inviting area residents to come and check out some of the newest types of quilting.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ryan by horse statue.jpg Good Samaritan who lost his leg ‘Keeps Moving Forward’

    He is an uncommon hero, this Good Samaritan who saved another man’s life and in doing so lost his left leg. Now his friends and family are reaching out to help him.
    While assisting a stranded motorist on Nov. 9, 2011, Edmond resident and Santa Fe High School graduate Tyler Ryan was hit and pinned against the back bumper of a car by an inattentive motorist on 15th Street in front of Crest Supermarket.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arthritis Foundation names Devon Energy Corp. CEO as 2014 honoree

    The Arthritis Foundation this week announced that John Richels, Chief Executive Officer, Devon Energy Corp., will be this year’s honoree at the 25th Annual Tribute to Excellence Dinner scheduled for Oct. 22 at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.  Richels will be recognized for his leadership, commitment and dedication to charitable and civic causes in the communities Devon serves across Oklahoma and throughout North America.
    The Arthritis Foundation’s Annual Tribute to Excellence Dinner recognizes outstanding Oklahomans in the public and private sectors for their exemplary work, as well as for their personal and professional contributions to society.

    July 18, 2014

  • Garden Yard of the Week winner Thompson preserves local history, beauty

    There is always movement and activity around the outskirts of the University of Central Oklahoma campus, but this week’s Edmond’s Yard of the Week winner, Sharon Thompson at 631 N. University, calms the area with a combination of Edmond’s slower past history and a current Zen peacefulness of nature in harmony. Her home is adjacent to more Edmond history — Gossett Park, honoring a 50-year Kiwanis member.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo