California won't be among those who will charge higher
premiums for smoking - even though -smoking - has health risks.
According to federal law, states can charge those
using tobacco 50% more for a health plan -
although California legislature has passed a bill against doing this.
The Affordable Care Act believes in eliminating any bias
of gender or medical condition in the pricing of health insurance for citizens
of America. Critics feel that a tobacco surcharge would create a new category
Karen Pollitz of the Kaiser Family Foundation said
that smokers would not get the benefit of subsidy through the marketplaces in
2014. For a low income person, a $ 3000 subsidy - when the cost of the policy
is $6000 is affordable - a tobacco surcharge on this would thrust it back to
According to Rick Curtis, president of the
Institute for Health Policy Solutions in Washington,
somebody who is totally hooked after many years and older ... and those kinds
of people are more expensive and often do need more medical care, they have two
bad choices: go without health insurance and be impoverished that way, or get
health insurance and be impoverished."
a health Policy analyst says yes to higher insurance premiums for tobacco users
— as long as they're not too high — as they provide the type of financial
penalties that studies say cause people to quit smoking. By contrast, he says,
banning higher rates because smoking disproportionately affects the poor
reflects paternalistic policymaking that does nothing to fix the problem.
think we have to be very careful what types of favors we're doing for people.
Because if the end results of this policy is greater numbers of smokers, then
that's not actually helping the populations that we're trying to help," he
California Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan disagrees. He's a Sacramento pediatrician who wrote
the legislation. Pan believes rate increases of any amount on smokers' premiums
may dissuade some from buying health insurance altogether.
want smokers to actually have health care coverage," he says. "And
through having health care coverage they will have access to smoking cessation
treatment as well as, of course, health care for not only smoking-related but
even their nonsmoking-related illness."
makes sense to those in California - that it is essential to provide tobacco
users with affordable health care rather than hike their premiums making it
difficult to quit smoking.
Rhode Island and District of Columbia are among others who don't charge smokers
a higher premium.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA
Licence Number: 2710062)