Smoking and Health Insurance Premiums

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First of all, I got the idea for this post from a great website about smoking cessation that posted a comment on another article of mine and pinged it.  Pinging is a blog term for linking to it, I think it could also mean that you are being followed and spied on by Donald Rumsfeld, so I am currently looking into this and will have an answer for you in a future post.  But in the meantime, I have to promote this person’s website as there is no way that anyone that wants to help people quit smoking can be harmful.

Having just quit smoking myself about 6 months ago for the 30th time (this time I am done though), I can tell you that he has a great site and one of the great articles that I found was about the lesser known tribulations of quitting smoking.  Luckily, this last time I quit smoking was so much easier because I used the laser which was amazing.  I walked in a smoker and walked out a beautifully happy ex smoker.  No side effects, or nothing.  This particular guy was in Aventura and a quick look up on the old Google will surely find him in one second, if you are ready to take the plunge, but even if you aren’t I would just go there with no expectations and gamble the $250 and give it a whirl if you have tried to quit in the past.

Smoking in this country is getting very expensive, but so is soda if the policymakers in Washington have their way.  I can imagine in the next few years one of the questions on the health insurance application being, “how many Mountain Dews do you have a day?”  Taxing soda is going to fix all of our problems.  This is a great idea!  Then when everyone stops drinking soda, and switches to, I don’t know, vodka, maybe everything will be so much better.  This, though, is not relevant as if you are reading this article you are debating how to answer the smoking question on your health insurance application not to read me making chit chat so I apologize for wandering and will be much more to the point.

If you are familiar with this website, then you know that we sell all reputable health insurance companies. They include Aetna, AvMed, Cigna, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Health One, and Coventry One.  Almost all of them rate up for smoking, except Aetna (who were supposed to but never did).  I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that after 5 years in health insurance and owning a brokerage with probably 10,000 clients from all of our agents, etc., I believe there have only been 10 people or so that actually claimed to smoke on their health insurance applications.  This is probably the correct strategy depending on your particular circumstances. For instance, and I am not encouraging people to fib on health insurance applications as this would undoubtedly hurt you if you ended up with a smoking related illness during the first two years as this is the contestability period with most health insurance companies as the insurance companies could easily get away with denying your claims.  So, if you are considering lying on your application you will have to weigh the facts that firstly your premium is likely to be 15-20% higher per month as a smoker.

Here are the rates with 5 Florida Health Insurance Companies for a 34 year old male in Boca Raton (this is where I live, so I figured why not use it as an example – though the ratios stand up across the country) as a smoker and as a non smoker, they are all the same plan or as close as I could come so you could compare the plans. Ignore the premium differences between the companies, as this can be very different in various zip codes and demographics.  For instance, in Broward County, Humana and Coventry would not be the least expensive plans, so instead concentrate on the premiums themselves with and without tobacco.

Company             Rate w/out  Tobacco                        Rate w/Tobacco

Aetna                      $188                                                             $188

Coventry               $131                                                             $150

Vista                        $208                                                            $208

Humana                 $123                                                              $155

United                     $148                                                             $177

Blue Cross              $161                                                             $197

I guess the answer is different for everyone, but I know that the amount of smokers buying health insurance in Florida is usually lower than the amount of people that don’t smoke buying health insurance.  In other words, if you smoke and accept the risks involved with it, then you are also likely to accept the risks in either lying on your health insurance application or more commonly, just forgoing it altogether.  This is not to equate smoking with ethics, as that is like saying anyone that drinks excessive amounts of coffee is more likely to mutilate puppy dogs. These numbers themselves look pretty low in terms of the rate increase for smoking but if you also add the price of cigarettes into the equation you are basically teetering on insanity if you keep smoking. Since this article is about individual health insurance, the conclusion is that firstly, smoking will make it more difficult to obtain individual health insurance, and after you lose your insurability, you are forced to spend sometimes triple the amount of an individual policy either by getting a very small group plan if you are self employed, or by getting a COBRA conversion if you are currently on COBRA due to a job change.

Call us now for some more information tailored to your individual needs @ 888 803 5917 if you are concerned about this issue, but don’t be too concerned because even if you are uninsurable we will get you coverage either through a government program, individual health insurance, or a small group plan, all at no cost to you.  Why do we do this?  Because eventually even if you go on Medicaid or make us do a 1 or 2 man group, eventually, most people end up referring business to us or having their situations themselves change and end up doing a normal policy with us.  Also, most importantly because we believe and hope that health insurance is a right, not a privilege.


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