The Relationship Between Health Insurance Costs And Vaping

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Vaping and Health Inurance

While many vapers enthusiastically support e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers as a way to enjoy a new kind of smoke, the scientific and medical community is a long way from making up its mind on the matter. Health insurance providers are caught in a dreadfully uncertain position when it comes to setting premiums for insuring vapers. Until authoritative regulations are established regarding e-cigarettes, their users are the ones with the advantage.

Tobacco’s Role In Setting Insurance Premiums

Besides its well-known health risks, traditional tobacco smoking is undoubtedly injurious to one’s bank balance. The cost of tobacco itself isn’t to blame; it’s the vastly increased long-term healthcare costs associated with regular smoking. Insurance companies are quite familiar with these expenses and never hesitate to pass them on to the individuals they insure.

Health insurance premiums for smokers are always more expensive than those for non-smokers. The Affordable Care Act has not helped the situation; its latest provisions allow insurance companies to add a punitive surcharge to the premiums they charge smokers. This can make health insurance nearly half again as expensive for smokers as it is for non-smokers.

The Current Regulatory Status Of E-Cigarettes

Given the many upheavals their industry is facing, insurers are eager to preserve their income wherever possible. In a recent survey conducted by the Munich American Reassurance Company, a full 90% of insurance company representatives would like to charge e-cigarette users according to the same pricing structure they use for smokers.

Fortunately, even though they’re close to a decade old, e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers remain largely unregulated by the FDA. They present such a radically different form of action compared traditional smoking that it will take a long time to accurately gauge their health impact and determine whether or not they are effective aids for giving up tobacco.

The Good News For Vapers

Until the US government enacts formal regulations governing the sale and use of e-cigarettes, health insurance providers are left with little legal justification for discriminatory premiums. While companies are free to charge higher premiums to e-cigarette users, vapers are under no legal obligation to disclose their status to their insurer. (Currently the Affordable Care Act mandates the disclosure of a smoking habit when one is seeking health insurance.)

For the time being, users of e-cigarettes and vaporizers face a fairly open insurance market. They don’t have to mention their vaping habit to an insurance company if they don’t want to, and thus they can avoid the onerous financial penalties imposed on traditional smokers. This situation may change once the FDA studies and regulates e-cigarettes more closely, though.

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  • Ali Esmaili
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