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The Impact of Smoking on Your Health Insurance Premiums

Apr 27, 2022

Health Insurance

The Impact of Smoking on Your Health Insurance Premiums

You probably know how smoking can impact your well-being from the mandated health warnings on cigarette packages or other information sources. Insurers understand these effects pretty well, so they consider your smoking habit when underwriting your medical coverage. Read on to learn more about how tobacco consumption can affect your health insurance premiums.

Factors That Determine Your Health Coverage Costs

The key determinants of your health plan costs are your:
  • Age
  • Location
  • Plan type
  • Dependents
  • Tobacco consumption
From insurers’ perspective, tobacco use means using any of the following tobacco products:
  • Cigars
  • Cigarettes
  • Pipe tobacco
  • Chewing tobacco

You’re deemed a tobacco user if you’ve used any of these products four times a week over the last six months.

Tobacco Surcharge

You’ll most likely qualify for a medical plan despite your detrimental smoking habit. However, your insurer will charge you higher premiums than a non-smoker. The extra cost is legal as the Affordable Care Act allows insurers to raise coverage charges for smokers by up to 50%. This is because smokers are at a greater risk of developing several serious health complications.

Smokers pay the maximum surcharge rate of 50% in most states. However, some states leverage other options or charge below this rate.

Honesty is the Best Policy

You should be truthful about your smoking habits when applying for health insurance. Resist the temptation to lie about it to lower your premiums, as this is a form of insurance fraud. Let your insurer know if you’re currently using a vaporizer or e-cigarette to help you quit the habit.

Many insurance companies would consider you a smoker and increase your coverage costs even if you use a vaporizer or e-cigarette. Misrepresenting your health risks can cause problems for you during the claims process. Confronting insurance fraud accusations when you’re sick and seeking financial support will add more stress to an already dire situation.

The Dangers of Smoking Without Insurance

The higher cost of coverage may deter some smokers from getting a health or life insurance policy. Living without a health plan can be a costly mistake.

For instance, if the uninsured smoker developed cancer due to their smoking habit, they’d wish they had medical coverage to offset significant treatment costs. Health insurance is always good for your financial stability and peace of mind.

Tobacco Cessation Coverage

Logic dictates that higher insurance premiums will encourage smokers to quit and lower their coverage costs. However, some consumers may continue the habit and pay the extra costs, while others opt out of coverage. For these reasons, some carriers offer smoking cessation coverage as a form of preventive care.

Typical smoking cessation coverages may include features like:
  • Counseling sessions (individual, group, and by phone)
  • Approved smoking cessation drugs

There’s no doubt that smoking can raise your health insurance premiums. By quitting the habit and choosing the right medical plan, you can protect your finances and be there for your dear ones for much longer. Contact our experts at Tompkins Insurance Agencies today to get a personalized health plan.

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