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How Smoking Can Affect Your Existing Health Insurance Policy

2010-10-14

If you are concerned about how smoking can affect your current health insurance policy, there are some facts you should definitely know. Although most insurance companies will assess each case individually, and many offer lesser premiums for those who consume less tobacco, those who smoke should still plan on paying significantly more for insurance than non-smokers. Obviously, this is due to the fact that smokers present higher fatality and illness rates than for those who abstain from smoking.

The timeline for those who have quit smoking translates to a graduated scale of better savings on health insurance rates. Health insurance carriers generally offer "preferred plus" status for those who have been non-smokers for five years or more. For policyholders who have been non-smokers for three years or more, they usually get a still good "preferred" status. Those who have only been smoke-free for 12 months get a "standard" rate.

You may be able to seek out more "smoker friendly" health insurance companies, though the standard in the industry is fairly uniform. They will seek out your recent medical records and may require a physical exam as part of their comprehensive investigation into your state of health. It is wise to be upfront with your insurance carrier and not be dishonest, as is the compulsion with many who are desperate to avoid high insurance rates. Moreover, it is probably better in the long run just to quit the smoking habit than to deceive your insurance company because this kind of dishonesty will reflect badly upon you if or when you have to turn to another health insurance provider in the future.

As of 2006, the CDC was showing that the average health care premium paid by employers nationwide was over $3,000 annually. This amounts to 25 percent more in health coverage costs than for non-smoking employees. The direct health care cost of caring for smokers as of 2006 was $75.5 billion annually, and lost wages from smokers who die prematurely was $92 billion. There is no more beneficial time to quit smoking than right now, as employer and health insurance carrier penalties for continuing to smoke, along with the incentives to quit, are higher than ever.

The full extent of the costs related to smoking extends much farther than just the high cost of a pack of cigarettes. Coming to terms with the high cost of smoking is another major reason to quit. That, and the fact that most adults cannot-and should not-go without health insurance coverage, coupled with soaring health care costs for future medical or remedial care, should be enough for you to reconsider whether it is time to stop smoking.

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