Finding a good health insurance company that offers affordable premiums is a challenge that every American has to overcome. Without health insurance, even a small broken bone or illness can generate medical bills in the thousands of dollars. There is a wide array of factors that affect insurance rates, with cigarette smoking near the top of this list. In this article, we’ll take a look at whether or not smoking affects your health insurance rates and just what you can do if you smoke and need to purchase health insurance.
Smoking and Health Insurance Rates
The short answer to the question “will smoking tobacco affect my health insurance rates?” is yes, it’s almost certain that it will. There is a mountain of factual data that proves that smokers cost insurance companies significantly more than their non-smoking counterparts, and insurers make use of these large studies and pools of data when determining premiums and insurance rates. Insurance companies set their clients’ premiums or rates according to how much risk they present in regards to costs; individuals who have lifestyle, health or other issues that suggest they will require expensive health care treatments later in life will be charged higher premiums to offset this risk.
Insurers aren’t simply charging more because they can claim that smokers will cost them more throughout their lifespans. It’s been determined through a number of studies that cigarette smokers cost the nation a huge amount of money each year. For every pack of cigarettes that a smoker consumes, it typically costs more than $7 to the country in the form of health care costs, lost productivity at work, and more. This is above and beyond the costs involved with the nearly 500,000 premature deaths attributed to cigarette smoking every year; altogether, it’s estimated that smokers cost the nation about $160 billion annually.
Can You Still Get Health Insurance If You Smoke?
Of course, since there are so many smokers and they require health insurance, insurers have no other choice but to offer insurance packages to them or they will end up losing out on a potentially huge customer base. Since there is a far greater risk that the smoker’s insurance company will have to pay out for expensive medical treatments due to tobacco use, the only way to recover these costs is to charge smokers more for health insurance. Note that insurance companies aren’t just picking on smokers – this general principle applies to other health and lifestyle issues such as pre-existing illnesses, obesity, and other risk factors for future disease.
So – what’s a smoker to do? Well, the best option is to quit smoking! This will not only reduce your health insurance premiums but can also extend your life and prevent serious forms of diseases, including emphysema, lung cancer, heart disease and more. A smoker that is worried more about their health insurance costs than their personal health certainly has their priorities in the wrong order. If you are a smoker that currently has health insurance, your insurance will likely cover some of the costs to help you quit, including paying for medical treatments and cessation aids like patches or drug therapy.
Affordable Health Insurance For Smokers
If quitting smoking just isn’t in the cards or you do not currently have health insurance, the next best bet is to do some research to try to find “smoker friendly” insurance companies, which try to offer premiums that aren’t too high for individuals that smoke. There are also insurers that have packages of insurance that can reduce health insurance costs when a smoker also purchases life, auto, home or other forms of insurance through them.
It’s important to remember that overall, smoking causes an incredible amount of harm to the nation – far more than just increased health insurance rates. The costs to treat severe illness, lost productivity through premature death, injuring others through secondhand smoke and many other reasons should be enough to convince smokers to give up their nasty habit. With health insurance costs ever rising, it’s likely that being unable to afford insurance will be just one more reason for smokers to stop smoking. Whether or not that works as a deterrent remains to be seen.
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