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Obamacare crackdown on smokers backfires as users flee
Obamacare’s stringent regulatory approach to weaning smokers off tobacco — through much higher-priced premiums than for nonsmokers — may be backfiring, driving potential HealthCare.gov participants to opt out and pay the fine for remaining without insurance.
“Charging tobacco users more in health insurance premiums, sometimes thousands of dollars more, studies have shown, will price smokers out of the market,” said Jennifer Singleterry of the American Lung Association in a Fox News report.
The ALA has supported Obamacare and favors the plan’s smoking-cessation programs. But the costs for smokers are outrageous — and may actually moot any benefits of the plan that are aimed at helping tobacco users quit their addictions. One example: Premiums for a 64-year-old nonsmoker are $9,000 a year, but for the same-age smoker they’re $13,600, Ms. Singleterry said.
And smokers are already planning on the opt-out clause.
“I can’t afford any insurance at that rate,” said smoker Don Hampson in the Fox News article. “I thought that was what Obamacare was about, to stop all this.”
Eleven states have interceded on behalf of smokers and put a halt to the extra charges, but most haven’t. In those states, insurance companies will pay the higher costs — and in the end, consumers.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Chumley is a continuous news writer for The Washington Times. Previously, she was part of the start-up team for The Washington Times’ digital aggregation product, Times247. She’s also a 2008-2009 Robert Novak journalism fellow with The Phillips Foundation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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