How Can Medicaid Help Smokers Quit?
It’s no secret that quitting smoking is difficult. While effective treatments (medications and counseling or other behavioral therapies known as smoking cessation treatments) can help smokers quit, cost can limit smokers’ use of these services. Fortunately, health insurance coverage can get people the treatment they need, and a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows how Medicaid coverage of smoking cessation treatments can help people quit successfully.
The study found that while quit rates among Medicaid recipients who smoked were generally low, quit rates were higher among recipients who lived in states where Medicaid covered medications and counseling for smoking and didn’t charge copays for counseling. Quit rates were lower in states that didn’t cover smoking cessation therapy and in states that only covered medications.
The bottom line is that when Medicaid programs do a good job of providing coverage for smoking cessation, quit rates are higher. The Affordable Care Act requires state Medicaid programs to cover smoking cessation medications, but it does not require coverage of counseling for all recipients. If more Medicaid programs covered both medication and counseling, quit rates would likely increase and the social and economic costs of smoking would decrease. This one simple change could save millions of dollars and countless lives.
Mark Stovell is a freelance blogger.