Study finds coverage for smoking cessation can be confusing

December 31, 2012

The Washington Post (12/18, Andrews) reports that “most people who smoke want to quit, and the 2010 health-care law is supposed to make it easier for them by requiring many insurance plans to cover smoking-cessation treatments with no out-of-pocket cost to members,” but a recent study suggests that “details” about who pays for it and what’s covered is inconsistent and confusing. After looking at 39 health plans in six states, researchers at the Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute found that coverage for smoking cessation was often unclear. The article says that “many contracts didn’t clearly state that the coverage was available, didn’t cover recommended treatments and/or didn’t provide it without cost-sharing.” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the group that commissioned the study, said that, “the study points out the need for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide much more specific guidelines.”

Despite ACA mandate, tobacco cessation not always covered

December 31, 2012

Some insurers require a related health condition before covering efforts to stop smoking. Others pay for them only when recommended by a physician.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott, amednews staff. Posted Dec. 17, 2012.


The Affordable Care Act decrees that insurers cover a list of preventive services, including smoking cessation attempts. But that doesn’t mean physicians will always get paid for helping patients kick the habit.

“There’s huge diversity in how this is being implemented,” said Mila Kofman, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute in Washington. “I would not assume that when a physician provides tobacco-cessation treatment that automatically the health plan will pay for it.”

Physicians may need to confirm with an insurer what is covered, she said.

Kofman analyzed 39 contracts between patients and insurers for individual, small group and government employee policies in six states. The report, funded by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, was issued Nov. 26.

Medicare pays for up to 2 smoking-cessation attempts each year per patient.

Thirty-six contracts included language indicating that preventive services would be paid for in full, but 26 of those contracts said smoking cessation was not covered. Four contracts excluded individual counseling, and 10 didn’t include telephone counseling. Seven covered counseling for tobacco cessation but required patients to pay a portion.

Other contracts limited access to tobacco cessation by requiring a related health condition before coverage would begin. The insurance companies in the study were not identified.

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Study: Millions in the US exposed to neighbors’ secondhand smoke

December 31, 2012

USA Today (12/15, Koch, Szabo) reported that “nearly 29 million Americans who say they don’t smoke in their apartments may still be exposed to secondhand smoke that wafts in from elsewhere in the building, federal researchers report today.” The article said that “secondhand smoke can cause disease and premature death in non-smokers; it potentially affects about 44 million Americans who live in multi-unit housing each year, including 27.6 million to 28.9 million with smoke-free apartments or condos, according to the study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” According to the article, “the study, published in the peer-reviewed Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal, says Census data taken between 2006 and 2009 indicate that one-quarter of Americans – or 79.2 million – live in multi-unit housing and about 62.7 million of them don’t smoke in their apartments,” adding, “that means 16.5 million do” smoke.

HealthDay (12/15, Reinberg) reported that Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health, said that “the best way to protect people living in apartments is by prohibiting smoking in all units and shared areas of a building.” He added that “this can be accomplished by state or city laws or by individual landlords,” according to the article.

Study: Almost 1M In Massachusetts exposed to secondhand smoke. The Boston Globe (12/15, Kotz) reported that “nearly 1 million Massachusetts residents who don’t smoke and live in apartments or attached houses are exposed regularly to cigarette smoke from their neighbors’ homes, according to a report released Friday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Moreover, the article noted that “nationally, about 45 percent of apartment dwellers – or 29 million Americans – are exposed to health risks from second-hand tobacco smoke, even though they enforce smoke-free rules in their own apartments.” According to the article, “the study, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, provides the first estimates by public health officials of the number of Americans experiencing seepage of cigarette smoke into their homes through ventilation systems, loose floorboards, and windows.”

Bloomberg reportedly waging “secret war” on smoking inside apartments. In an article entitled, “Mayor’s ‘secret War’ On Smoking Inside Your Apartment,” the New York Post (12/17, Buiso) reported that “community groups are being asked to convince tenants and property managers to turn their private buildings into butt-free abodes – the latest front in the Health Department and Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-smoking crusade, according to a recently released ‘request for proposal’ document'” that the Post obtained. According to the document, a community group will get $10,000 to persuade property owners to ban smoking. The article said that “the secret salvo comes a year after the city banned smoking in parks and beaches, and after Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said there were no plans to expand a butt ban to apartment buildings.” The Post added, “Released by the Health Department’s nonprofit arm, Partnership for a Healthier New York City, the document solicits ‘neighborhood contractors’ to ‘support and advance’ its agenda in four separate areas of concern: tobacco, alcohol, exercise and diet.'”

Want to Cure a Hangover? Don’t Pick Up a Cigarette

December 6, 2012

200168759-001Lighting up and drinking go hand in hand on a night of revelry, but smoking can make hangovers worse.

That’s what researchers from Brown University found after studying a group of college students who had varying reactions to drinking episodes, with some suffering from unbearable hangovers complete with headaches, nausea and fatigue, while others coasted relatively pain-free after a night of drinking. About a quarter of people who drink heavily enough to trigger a hangover don’t seem to be affected by the morning-after payback.

The scientists asked 113 college students to complete an online survey detailing their smoking and drinking habits as well as hangover symptoms over an eight week period. When students really Read the rest of this entry »