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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Are Smokers Really the ACA’s Biggest Losers?

Smoking is a major pre-existing condition in workers' compensation claims and it is also a multiplier for medical conditions that result in malignancies. Penalizing smokers through the ACA (Affordable Care Act) will also have an effect on workers' compensation claims. Today's post was shared by The Health Care Blog and comes from

Facing thousands in extra insurance costs, smokers appear to be the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) biggest losers.  Employers are allowed charge smokers up to 50% more for their medical coverage than nonsmokers , starting in 2014.
On November 25, Fox News put it best:  “Obamacare Policies Slam Smokers,” , noting that “smokers are the only group with a pre-existing condition that Obamacare penalizes.”   THCB itself has headlined:  Smokers Face Tough New Rules under Obamacare.
And these headlines are absolutely accurate —  meaning that, with the possible exception of the e-cigarette, ACA is the best thing that has happened to employed smokers ever.
Here is how we arrive at this conclusion.  The data is mixed on whether smokers incur much higher healthcare costs or just slightly higher healthcare costs during their working ages than non-smokers do.  None of the data shows that their costs are lower, but let’s say there is no impact on health spending.
Nonetheless, the following is incontrovertible:  smokers take smoking breaks.
Remarkably, there are no laws specifically governing smoking breaks, and like most other quantifiable human resources issues, no one has quantified them.   But we all observe these breaks, and about a fifth of us participate in them.  They reduce productivity.  By definition, if you are outside smoking, you are not inside...
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