Fewer Americans would smoke if cessation treatments were covered: CDC

Fewer americans would smoke if cessation treatments were covered: CDC
Counseling and medication services aren't all included, and barriers to access exist, study shows.

(HealthDay)—More Americans would quit smoking if coverage for every type of smoking-cessation treatment was provided by all state Medicaid programs, and if states removed barriers to coverage, according to a federal government study.

Although states are making progress, few of them provide Medicaid for all treatments to help people kick the habit, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC researchers said Medicaid enrollees are more likely to smoke than people in the general population, and smoking-related diseases are a major factor in rising Medicaid costs.

Currently, seven states cover all approved smoking-cessation medications and counseling for all Medicaid recipients. Barriers to getting these treatments exist in all states, with the most common being limits on how long treatment is covered, how much is covered per year, prior authorization requirements and co-payments, the researchers said.

They found that between 2008 and 2014, 41 states made changes to the smoking-cessation treatments they covered for at least some plans or groups of people. Nineteen states added treatments to coverage without removing any from coverage. Meanwhile, eight states removed treatments from coverage without adding any new treatments. Fourteen states both added and removed coverage.

Over that period, 38 states changed barriers to getting smoking-cessation treatment for at least some plans or groups of people. Nine states removed barriers without adding any, 12 states added barriers without removing any and 17 states both removed and added barriers.

The study appears in the March 27 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which is published by the CDC.

"States can save lives and reduce costs by providing Medicaid coverage for all proven cessation treatments, removing barriers to accessing these treatments and promoting the expanded coverage," Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said in an agency news release.

"Reducing the number of smokers will save lives and reduce costs," he said.

And many people are interested in quitting, a study researcher said.

"There's evidence suggesting that smokers enrolled in Medicaid, like other smokers, want to quit and will take advantage of covered cessation treatments to help them quit for good," study co-author Stephen Babb said in the news release.

Babb pointed to Massachusetts, which expanded its Medicaid coverage of smoking-cessation treatments in 2006.

"Massachusetts heavily promoted its new Medicaid cessation coverage to Medicaid enrollees and health care providers, and saw a drop in the smoking rate among Medicaid enrollees from 38 percent to 28 percent," Babb said.

"There was also an almost 50 percent drop in hospital admissions for heart attacks among those who used the benefit," he said. "It is important that all smokers who want help quitting—including smokers enrolled in Medicaid—have access to proven cessation treatments and services."

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and kills nearly half a million Americans a year. More than 16 million Americans have smoking-related diseases, which cost $132 billion a year in direct health care expenses, according to the CDC.

Explore further

Better benefits help Medicaid recipients quit smoking

More information: The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.

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User comments

Mar 27, 2014
Few enough smoke now. Let freedom ring.

Mar 27, 2014
Fewer Americans would smoke cigarettes if the congress simply banned them, instead of subsidizing this generation of smokers' medical bills by taxing the next generation of smokers...

It's immoral.

See, the way the U.S. government thinks is this:

1, Instead of banning negative behavior, we'll just tax it to subsidize medical bills.
2, Without a ban, a new generation of users is born, and they too have all the diseases and associated problems.
3, Goto number 1.

Correct solution:

1, Ban smoking (for example)
2, Most people lose access to cigarettes.
3, Most people quit.
4, Amount of disease decreases.
5, Prior tax monies are no longer needed to subsidize treatment of those diseases.
6, Everyone is healthier and breathes cleaner air!

Mar 28, 2014
Fewer Americans would smoke cigarettes if the congress simply banned them, . . .

Has this ever been tried before? The government trying to ban some popularly consumed substance nevertheless seen to have deleterious health effects? How well did that work out?

Mar 28, 2014
Has this ever been tried before? The government trying to ban some popularly consumed substance nevertheless seen to have deleterious health effects? How well did that work out?

Pretty well considering only a few percent regularly use those banned substances, compared to cigarettes.

There's also another article on here in the past few days which shows that premature births in the U.S. have already dropped 10% since public smoking was banned.

40 million Americans smoke cigarettes REGULARLY.

10 million Americans smoke marijuana about 6 times per year, and about 26 million smoked marijuana 1 or more times within the past year.

Clearly, banning harmful drugs causes a very, very significant reduction in the scope of use and the amount of use of the substance per person.

Marijuana promoters point to medical benefits, fine, let it be grown by people who did not break the law when it was illegal, such as pharmaceutical companies, instead of former criminals.

Mar 28, 2014
But anyway, they point to a few specialized medical benefits as an excuse for what amounts to full, public use of Marijuana.

Regardless of what they'll claim, Marijuana produces some toxins which as I was taught anyway, require as much as 30 days to clear from the brain. One joint.

Now think about that public smoking ban. If that "public ban" produced an approximately 10% decline in premature births, not to mention other benefits, then imagine what the benefits would be if a full ban was implemented, and the prevalence of tobacco smoking reduced even to current Marijuana levels?

The health benefits would surely be as big or bigger again on top of the 10% decline in premature births.

Do you realize that science PROVES second hand smoke is poisonous and is a violate of people's right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness?

It proves cigarette smoking is child abuse, both directly and indirectly.

It's a sad state of affairs because there are so many addicts.

Mar 28, 2014
Instead of banning the stuff, what does the government do?

Ah, just restrict advertisement some and promote a few anti-smoking ads...but cigarettes are still one of the biggest cash items in every convenience store and grocery store, right at the counter, where every teen can see them.

All of those young people are addicted to this stuff, which should have been banned in the 1960's before I was even born, and now their children too run the risk of being affected by this.

This goes beyond immoral or even unethical. It's a crime against humanity.

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