Smokers and the New Health Care System

The ACA will be expensive for smokers. Under a provision of the federal health care law, states can allow health plans to charge tobacco users up to 50 percent more for their health insurance premiums. The provision allowing for a “tobacco surcharge” was designed in part to encourage smokers to quit. But critics say the smoker’s surcharge is discriminatory, which goes against the spirit of The ACA. A low-income person buying a $6,000 policy who qualified for a subsidy might see the price of the policy drop to $3,000, but the tobacco surcharge would knock it back up to $6,000 again.
The Center for Disease Control puts the nation’s annual price tag for smoking at more than $190 billion in medical care and lost productivity. Nearly 20% of people in the United States still smoke.

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