What Happens to My Health Insurance if I Start Smoking After Purchasing a Policy as a Non-Smoker?
When you signed up for your health insurance, your provider asked you a litany of questions. The answers to those questions helped your provider determine what kind of risk you are. The higher the risk, the higher your deductible will be.
While the questions that health insurance companies ask prospective policyholders may differ from provider to provider, there is one question that every company asks, and that is: “Do you smoke?”
The answer to that question is crucial. For obvious reasons, if you answer yes, the risk of insuring you is much higher because of all of the dangerous effects that smoking has on your health. As such, the chances that your health insurance provider will have to cover the cost of smoking-related health issues will be greater; and therefore, the cost of your insurance will be higher for you. However, if the answer to that question is no, your premiums will be lower because you are far less develop smoking-related health issues.
But what happens if you weren’t a smoker when you applied for your health insurance, but you started smoking after you received a quote and were granted coverage?
Your Rates Will Not Change
Believe it or not, if you were a non-smoker when you purchased your health insurance and you have started smoking, your rates will not go up if your plan has been active for a period of at least one year. How can that be, considering the fact that smoking has such severe effects on your health? The reason is because you weren’t a smoker when your policy was initially issued. The premiums your provider offered at the time your policy was enacted were determined by the state of your health at the time that you applied for your policy. In other words, the status of your current health will not affect how much you have to pay for your coverage. In other words, if you start smoking after your health insurance policy is in force, you will not be required to pay higher rates for your coverage. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should take up the habit; countless studies have proven that tobacco use in any capacity adversely affects your health, and those effects can be serious and even deadly.
Lying About Your Tobacco Use
If you are a smoker who is applying for health insurance, it’s important that you share your history of tobacco use with your prospective insurance provider. If you fail to share this information, you may suffer consequences, as you will not be presenting the risks that you pose to your would-be health insurance provider. You might be inclined to lie to your provider in order to avoid paying a higher deductible; don’t. Health insurance companies can conduct investigations to find out your history of tobacco use. While they aren’t going to spy on you to see if you are lighting up, they may contact your healthcare providers to learn if you are a smoker. If you are a smoker, your doctor will be obligated to share this information with your prospective health insurance provider.
In some cases, insurance companies may conduct even more extensive investigations to determine if you use tobacco. For example, you may be asked to provide a urine or blood sample, which will be assessed to determine if the presence of nicotine exists. If your insurance company finds out that you were dishonest about your tobacco use when you applied for coverage, they could drop your policy, which would leave you without coverage. In the most severe situation, your health insurance company may even decide to take you to court. Furthermore, you may be required to pay the difference in your premiums; since you were paying lower premiums because you said you were a non-smoker, the insurance company may demand that you pay them the cost of the premiums you would have been paying if you were honest and told them that you were a smoker.
Summing It Up
If you start smoking after your health insurance policy is in force, your premiums won’t go up; however, picking up the habit is not advisable. Furthermore, if you are applying for health insurance and you are a current smoker, do make sure that you tell your provider the truth, otherwise you could face serious ramifications.