June 22nd, 2010 by Penny Hagerman
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1 in 4 smokers who use medications to quit are able to go smoke-free for more than six months.
Many even succeed in quitting permanently.
However, over-the-counter smoking-cessation treatments, and the counseling that’s often needed to help smokers quit for good, aren’t covered under Californians’ health insurance plans—even though they seldom cost more than a few hundred dollars and double the success rate over trying to quit without help.
Conversely, more expensive treatments like in-vitro fertilization, bone-density screening and chiropractic sessions are covered by insurance.
Doesn’t make much sense, huh? But that’s likely about to change.
A bill introduced by California State Senator Leland Yee would mandate insurance coverage for stop-smoking treatments that have been deemed effective by the American Lung Association. This would include both over-the-counter and prescription medications and programs.
The benefits? Most are apparent. When smokers quit, they improve their health, avoid developing dangerous and deadly health conditions, and reduce the financial load on the health care system from smoking-related diseases and treatments.
There are other, less obvious benefits as well. According to Insurance News Net, cigarette butts are the most common trash item on the state’s beaches. Aiding smokers in giving up their nasty habit means less litter—to say nothing of the clean air gained and the reduced number of illnesses due to secondhand smoke.
Only seven states in the nation require at least some level of smoking-cessation insurance coverage. California will likely become the eighth soon, as it helps lead the way in combating the devastating consequences of smoking, both individually and publicly.