A Banner Publication
November 2, 2006 – No. 3
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Insurance Benefits for Smoking Cessation

More than 9,000 Massachusetts residents die each year from tobacco-related causes, making smoking the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the state, as well as the nation. In response, more and more health insurance companies are offering coverage for smoking cessation programs and encouraging their members to make use of them.

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, smoking cessation treatments have been found to be safe and effective. These include counseling and medications, or a combination of both. There are currently more than ten nicotine replacement therapies on the market, but some are available by prescription only, and many are expensive.

Fortunately, the number of health insurers in Massachusetts that are providing smoking cessation benefits is increasing. In July 2006, MassHealth began providing members with individual and group tobacco cessation counseling and nicotine replacement therapy. Many private insurers also cover these methods for quitting. Nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum, lozenges and the patch are available over-the-counter, while other therapies such as a nicotine inhaler or nasal spray are available by prescription.

One of the most effective ways to help people quit is through counseling with their physician. Health plans, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), have created a program called Quitworks to assist physicians in enrolling their patients into the free DPH telephone counseling program called Trytostop. More information can be found at www.quitworks.org. Although talking with your physician about quitting and accessing the state’s free resources is highly recommended, you can also learn more on your own by visiting www.trytostop.org or calling 1-800-TRYTOSTOP.

To learn more about smoking cessation benefits available to you, contact a customer service representative at your health insurance provider.