Save on Health Insurance Premiums with Smoke-Free Policies

Many health insurers offer discounts for businesses that provide smoke-free environments and smoking cessation programs.

Here’s why. Smokers tend to require more medical costs, see physicians more often and be admitted to hospitals for longer periods than nonsmokers.

According to the American Cancer Society, a study of health care utilization in 20,000 employees showed smokers had more hospital admissions per 1,000 (124 vs. 76), had a longer average length of stay (6.5 vs. 5 days) and made six more visits to health care facilities per year than nonsmoking employees (7).

Research shows that, while healthcare costs decline over time for former smokers, healthcare costs for continuing smokers can dramatically increase over time. If a health plan had no smokers, estimated savings would be approximately $1.3 million per year per 10,000 smokers, according to a healthcare actuarial study conducted on behalf of the Colorado Clinical Guidelines Collaborative (8). That study showed smokers add approximately seven percent to the total cost of healthcare by using tobacco. Individual smokers average 30 percent higher healthcare costs than nonsmokers.

By the Numbers

·         30% = higher percentage of healthcare expenses for a smoker vs. nonsmoker (8)

·         74% = percentage of Wisconsin insurers covering some form of cessation medication (9)

·         $490 = average extra annual medical expenses from regular exposure to secondhand smoke (10)

·         $1,623 = average additional medical expenses per year for a smoker (4)

·         $2.9 billion = combined healthcare expenses and lost productivity due to smoking in Wisconsin (5)

Businesses pay an average of $1238 more in workers’ compensation costs per smoker per year. (11)

To contact a UW-CTRI professional for more information, click here.