Big Tobacco, Anti-Smoking Groups Target ObamaCare

They don't want smokers charged more for insurance
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2013 7:49 PM CST
Cigarettes are looking even more expensive under Obamacare.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Big Tobacco and anti-cancer activists are lining up against a provision in ObamaCare that would let insurers charge smokers more, the Washington Post reports. It's no small spike, either: One study found that a low-income smoker could see premiums leap from $708 to $3,308. "Our concern is that a tobacco use surcharge carries a risk of rendering health insurance unaffordable for many people,” says an anti-smoking activist.

So the American Cancer Society and Altria, which owns Philip Morris, plan to monitor state legislatures and influence some to roll back the provision. Even health-conscious California has banned the surcharge in its health-insurance marketplace, and may do the same for outside-market carriers. Health insurers disagree, of course, saying they'll raise rates for all customers if smokers aren't charged more. Meanwhile, electronic-cigarette makers are smiling; because their products include nicotine but not tobacco, users of their devices could potentially avoid the increased rates.

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