Smokers may pay premium under Obamacare
Smokers premiums to be increased
As the new Health Care legislation is review and experts complete their analysis, more and more Americans are finding they may be priced out of certain options. The newest group to recognize the potential impact on their pocket books is smokers. According to reports, a little noted provision in the massive new healthcare legislation will allow the health insurance companies to charge smokers who buy individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting Jan. 1, 2014.
The hardest hit, according to reports, will be older smokers, who medical experts argue often suffer from high costing smoking related disease. How much money are we really talking about? According to CBS News, For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.
Experts within the individual health insurance market argue that the most costly smokers will be older smokers who have been smoking 20 to 30 years. These are the smokers that many insurers will not want to ensure, and the new laws will, in the words of one market analyst, give insurers the ability to discourage them."
There may be relief for some workers who are covered under employment plans, especially if they are willing to quit smoking, but this option may not be available to smokers who need to purchase individual insurance coverage.
General Policies allowed under Obamacare
What does the federal health care law allow under Obamacare:
- Older workers who smoke can be charged up to 3 times the amount that a younger consumer is charged.
- Older smokers may be charged a full 50 percent penalty above what is charged for younger ones.
- Government tax credits that will be available to help pay premiums cannot be used to offset the cost of penalties for smokers.
Lower Income Smokers hit the hardest
What is more troublesome is that of the nearly one in five United States Adults who smoke the hardest hit will be the lower income smokers, who may not have health insurance through their employer, and will have to rely more heavily on the federal healthcare option.
Proponents of charging more argue that insuring smokers does cost more money because smoking can increase the risk of severe health conditions such as lung cancer and heart disease. Opponents argue that the law, which does not charge more for other preexisting conditions or obesity, is unfair to smokers. Especially when obesity and the resulting health conditions arguably costs employers more than smoking.
When are the new policies implemented?
Policy changes can start as early as January 1, 2014, making it possible for people who dont have coverage now to purchase private policies. The law will not allow the insurance companies to deny coverage to the sick, but as mentioned above, the new penalties for smokers may discourage smokers from purchasing the policies or increase the cost of the policies to a level which may make participation cost prohibitive.