New Obamacare Regs Hit Smokers With 50% Surcharge // Rules Also Permit Charging 50% More if Family Member Smokes
2012-11-20 20:13:02 - WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 20, 2012): Proposed regulations just issued by the administration would permit smokers to be charged 50% more than nonsmokers for health insurance, a provision which would also apply if a family member smoked, reports public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who lobbied hard for the provision and is responsible for existing law on the subject.
The surcharges have two purposes, says Banzhaf. First, it would help alleviate the current situation in which the great majority of Americans who are nonsmokers are forced to absorb the huge costs smokers imposes on our economy: an estimated $12,000 per smoking worker, or more than $200 billion annually.
Second, smokers – the overwhelmingly majority of whom already would
like to quit – will now have a powerful and immediate incentive to quit. “For all too many smokers, the incentive to quit today is only a statistically risk of death, disability, or ill health a long time in the future. Since people tend to respond better to immediate incentives – like saving 50% on health insurance premiums – this new requirement would give many of them the added incentive they need to quit.
Prof. Banzhaf helped establish the current rules under which smokers can be charged more for their health insurance; a practice which is widely spreading as companies seek some way to hold down escalating health insurance costs.
Indeed, notes Banzhaf, many state laws already permit it, and something like a dozen states already charge their smoking employees more.
“This is the only provision of Obamacare which finally imposes individual responsibility on citizens to care for their own health. It’s long overdue, and is likely to save hundreds of billions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs,” he says.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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Washington, DC 20052, USA
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