Thursday, December 1, 2011

Smoking Driving Up Health Insurance Costs

The American Cancer Society marks the 36th Great American Smokeout today by encouraging smokers to make a plan to quit smoking.  This gives many smokers the motivation to start their path towards a healthier life.  Not only will quitting decrease their cancer risk, but it can end up saving them money on life and health insurance quotes.

The AlliedQuotes article “How the Effects of Smoking Are Driving Up Costs” points out some interesting facts about smokers and health insurance costs.  The Union Camp Corporation evaluated the health costs of 700 of their employees in 1992 and discovered that employees who did not smoke cost their company about $462 less in health care costs than employees who did smoke.  Among the 400 production workers, each nonsmoker saved the company about $284 in sick pay.  Another study of 2500 postal workers published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the rate of absenteeism was 33% for smokers.

These shocking numbers make it obvious why employers and health insurance companies want to charge smokers more for health insurance coverage.  Unfortunately, the costs typically get spread out among all policyholders which will mean higher health insurance rates for everyone.  While an individual policy may end up more expensive for a smoker, plans through employers are typically the same for everyone.  Some employers will offer cessation programs, not only to help the absentee numbers, but also to drive down the costs of health insurance packages for all employees.

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