Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Who's a smoker and what's that gonna cost you?

Stop Smoking Detroit!  People in Detroit, MI have another solid reason to stop smoking.  This reason will have a national effect, but according to the  Detroit Free Press and the U.S. CDC, there are about 44 million people in the U.S. that smoke cigarettes.  In Michigan, that's about 1 in 5.

Recent health care reforms is allowing insurance companies  to adjust premiums for tobacco users upwards of 50% in some cases!

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and illness.  The CDC says that tobacco use costs the US approximately $96 billion annually in medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity.

SIDE BAR:  Add those two up and we're talking about $193 billion dollars a year.  If you could redirect these funds, how would you spend that money?  The national debt could be paid down in about 85 years assuming we accrue no additional debt...  like that'll ever happen.  

Smoking is the only behavior or habit that an insurer can actually penalize a consumer for doing under the federal law.

The questions now is, what makes a smoker a smoker in the eyes of Uncle Sam?

Here at The StopDontQuit blog, we wanted smokers and occasional smokers alike to know so they can make a educated decision on specifically how and when they decide to continue smoking.

  • If you've used tobacco an average of four or more times per week within the last six months, your considered a tobacco user.
  • Since a minor cannot purchase tobacco products legally, an insurance company cannot take tobacco use into account to set premiums if the tobacco user is younger than 18.
  • An insurance company can't penalize smokers or tobacco users for using it for religious or ceremonial uses.”  It uses Native American ceremonies as an example, but it does not clarify this provision further.
  • Good news is that the law requires that all individual and small-market policies cover tobacco cessation programs.

Here's another fun fact.  Let's say you lied about your smoking, then get caught.  Caught meaning a tumor in your lung or throat cancer that can't be explained away in any Michael Douglas fashion.  Now what?  Well the insurance company can't drop your lying ass, but they can charge you what you should have paid and do retroactively.

If you're a number guy, consider this.  The law also allows an adult smoker to be be charged three times more than a young adult smoker.  And it also provides that smokers don't get to use government tax credits available to help pay premiums to offset the surcharges from smoking...  [insert Homer Simpson DOH! here]

So do that math.  What does it really cost you to keep smoking?  Would you invest $20 to learn how to stop?  Clearly you need to learn how to stop.  You haven't quit yet, obviously, because you're still smoking. What if you didn't have to quit, but all you needed to do was stop? Every time you get on a plane, you stop.  Every time you go to the movies, you stop.  Why not stop all together?  Who said anything about quitting?  I stopped in 2002, haven't had a cigarette since and still haven't quit.  And look, if I can do that, certainly you can too.  Listen to yourself and the excuses you're making up right now.  Hopefully you feel like that really isn't you talking and would like to let the real you back out to play.  Pick up a copy of "How To Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone", invest $20 in saving the rest of your life.