Kentuckiana is synonymous with fast horses and speedy racecars. However, another trend that has caught fire just as swiftly is e-cigarette usage. In fact, data released by QuoteWizard on Monday ranked Kentucky second (6.1%) and Indiana (6%) third in the country for the highest prevalence of e-cigarette users. Oklahoma with 7.1% placed first and neighboring state Tennessee was a close fourth with 5.9%.
Vaping devices have quickly become the most commonly used tobacco product among teens. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 3.6 adolescents were vaping in 2018.
While the CDC attempts to curb young users from taking up the habit, adults who use e-cigarettes may be faced with a 50% increase in health insurance rates in the near future.
Health insurance premium hikes will depend on whether states and insurance companies begin to classify e-cigarettes as a tobacco product — that poses the same health risks as its cigarette counterpart — or a nicotine alternative and cessation product designed to help smokers quit.
If the e-cigarettes are classified as a tobacco product, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already labeled them, the tobacco use surcharge under the Affordable Care Act will kick in, giving insurance companies the green light to increase premiums up to a maximum of 50% for enrollees who identify as tobacco users — a practice that all but a handful of states currently adhere to.
Of course, like traditional cigarette users, adults who vape would be required to admit tobacco usage to the health insurance company and pay higher premiums or lie about it and risk the potential of committing fraud.
For states like Kentucky, which has the second-highest rate of smokers in the nation at 24.5%, health insurance premiums — 44% of which are provided by employers — would be significantly impacted.
Before forking over more in health insurance costs or lying about tobacco usage, now would be an opportune time to kick the habit. That may be easier said than done, but monetarily beneficial in the long run.