Quitting smoking or using any type of tobacco is one of the best things you can do for your health. Tobacco is linked to lung cancer and many other types of cancer, heart disease and stroke, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), lung disorders, vision problems, problems during pregnancy, gum disease, and many other serious health concerns. The sooner you stop, the quicker your body can start to recover.
Most health care plans, including all plans purchased through the Marketplace, cover screening about tobacco use, during which your doctor will ask if you smoke or use tobacco and offer you information on how it affects your health and why you should consider quitting.
Your health care coverage may now include free programs to help you quit. Depending on your plan, that might include:
- Counseling about how to stop smoking or using other types of tobacco
- Stop-smoking drugs bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix)
- Nicotine replacement, such as gum, lozenges, skin patch, inhaler, and nose spray
If you are covered by Medicare, your smoking-related benefits include two opportunities each year to quit smoking or using any other type of tobacco. Each time you try to quit, your Medicare coverage includes:
- Four counseling sessions (for a total of eight sessions in a year)
- Recommendations from your doctor for medications such as nicotine nose spray, nicotine inhaler, Zyban, and Chantix; these prescription medications will be covered if you have Medicare Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan.
Each health care plan is different when it comes to specific benefits for people who want to quit smoking or using other types of tobacco. You may want to call your insurance provider to find out what is covered for you.
Quitting can be hard, but having this help can make it easier. Get started today:
- Check your benefits summary or call your insurer to see what specific stop-smoking benefits are covered under your health care plan.
- Call your doctor to make an appointment. You can start counseling, and your doctor may suggest a patch, gum, lozenge, or something else to help you quit. The sooner you stop smoking, the sooner your body will start to get healthy again.
- Make a quit plan. Set a date to quit in the next 2 weeks. Tell friends, family, and coworkers so you have their support. Throw away ashtrays and make your car and home smoke-free. Change your routine, and plan ways to manage stress and cravings.
- For ideas and help on kicking the habit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or go to http://smokefree.gov/talk-to-an-expert. You'll be connected to counselors in your state who are trained to help smokers quit.
* Grandfathered health plans, those that existed before the Affordable Care Act was passed and have not significantly changed, are not required to offer preventive care, such as counseling for quitting smoking. Check with your insurance company or HR department to find out if you’re in a grandfathered plan. In addition, short-term health plans do not have to cover preventive care. Short-term health policies are those in effect for less than 12 months, although they can be renewed for up to 3 years.