Health Care Overhaul Could Cost Smokers Plenty

WASHINGTON (January 24, 2013)—Millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties under President Barack Obama's health care law, experts say.

The Affordable Care Act allows health insurers to charge smokers buying an individual policy as much as 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.

That means a 60-year-old smoker could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of normal premiums.

Younger smokers could be charged lower penalties under rules proposed last fall by the Obama administration.

Workers with job-based coverage can avoid tobacco penalties by joining a smoking cessation program.

Older smokers buying individual coverage could face a heavy financial hit at a time in life when smoking-related illnesses typically emerge.

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