Magazine article Medical Economics

ACA Exchange Plans Fail to Offer Required Smoking Cessation Coverage

Magazine article Medical Economics

ACA Exchange Plans Fail to Offer Required Smoking Cessation Coverage

Article excerpt

** MILLIONS OF AMERICANS who have enrolled in health insurance marketplace plans should be provided with free tools to quit smoking, but a new report from the American Lung Association shows fewer than 20% of plan issuers are providing the appropriate coverage.

The report shows that only 60 plan issuers out of 348 (17%) are covering tobacco cessation medications with no cost-sharing as required in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and fewer than half of issuers list those seven approved cessation medications on their publically available drug lists, or formularies. Only one state, West Virginia, had all plans in the marketplace covering all tobacco cessation medications. West Virginia has only one plan issuer selling plans in its marketplace.

"Plans in state marketplaces are not providing access to medication and counseling to help smokers quit, despite the fact that the ACA requires smoking cessation coverage," says Jennifer Singleterry, director, national health policy, American Lung Association. "When insurance plans don't provide comprehensive coverage to help smokers quit, it is a major missed opportunity' to save lives and healthcare dollars."

"All private health insurance plans that are not grandfathered - including many run by managed care decisionmakers - are required to cover tobacco cessation treatments with no cost-sharing by the ACA. This report discusses this requirement and how plans sold in state marketplaces are following it," Singleterry says. "It is crucial that all health insurance plan cover a comprehensive benefit to help smokers quit. …

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