Lindeen: Insurance Costs 50 Percent More for Smokers

csimt 2014, Insurance, Press Release

“Now is the time to kick some ash”

HELENA, Mont. – Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen reminded Montanans Thursday that insurance companies can charge them 50 percent more if they smoke.

Lindeen’s remarks come as the American Cancer Society celebrates the annual Great American Smokeout – a one-day event encouraging smokers to quit – if only for one day.

“If you’ve been waiting for the right time to quit, now is the time to kick some ash,” Lindeen said.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the country, according to the American Cancer Society, with more than 159,000 deaths so far this year. But tobacco use is tied to much more than just lung cancer. Cigarette smokers are twice as likely to suffer stroke as non-smokers and 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease.

Federal law allows insurance companies to charge smokers up to 50 percent more for health insurance than non-smokers. That means a policy that might cost a non-smoker $200 a month would cost a smoker $300 – and federal health insurance tax credits do not lower the smoking surcharge.

The American Cancer Society has marked the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday in November since 1976, when the California Division of the American Cancer Society encouraged more than one million people to stop smoking for a day, and hopefully, for life.

There are free resources available to Montanans who are trying to give up tobacco. The Department of Public Health and Human Services maintains the state “Quit Line,” a state program with free coaching and other advice for people trying to snuff out tobacco.

In addition, tobacco use screening and smoking cessation classes are covered under health insurance plans.