Smokers who want to quit could get free help to kick the habit. Health insurance companies are now required to cover stop smoking services.
“Smoking kills,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “We know that quitting is difficult, but help is available and it could save your life.”
Federal agencies recently clarified a requirement that health insurance companies cover tobacco use counseling and interventions. Coverage of the preventive services is required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The services are covered with no out-of-pocket costs and no prior authorization.
“Smokers should check with their health insurance companies or employers to find out what benefits are offered,” said Doak. “Not only could quitting save your life, but it could also lower your health insurance premium.”
Compliant insurance plans will cover at least two tobacco cessation attempts per year. Each attempt includes four counseling sessions of at least 10 minutes each. Plans will also cover all FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications when prescribed by a health care provider.
Smoking is Oklahoma's leading preventable cause of death, killing more Oklahomans than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, suicide, murder and illegal drug use combined. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 23.3 percent of Oklahomans smoke.
Open enrollment on the Health Insurance Marketplace begins Nov. 15. Oklahomans with questions can call Consumer Assistance at 1-800-522-0071 or visit www.oid.ok.gov.