Could Electronic Cigarette Use Affect Health Care Costs?

Health care is a significant cost for most people whether they receive employer health insurance or have individual policies. Now that ecig use is becoming more and more popular, questions are arising about whether or not using an e-cig could affect the cost of health insurance, and about whether insurance could ever cover the cost of purchasing a vapor pen.


Understanding Insurance Costs

Before the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies could use many different factors to set the rate of health insurance premiums, but today, companies are limited to basing rates on four factors:

  • How old a person is
  • Where the person is located
  • How many people are in their family
  • Tobacco use; if a person has used tobacco 4 or more times per week within 4 months of applying for insurance, companies can charge an extra fee called a tobacco surcharge.

Vapor Pen Use and Tobacco Surcharges

At the present time, using a hookah pen or e-cigarette is not considered using tobacco even if nicotine liquids are vaped with the devices; however, there is speculation that once the FDA announces its final regulations on the sale of ecig and related products that health insurance companies may begin to count vapor pen use as smoking.

Although it is possible that health insurers may try to charge vaporists more, some experts feel that the tobacco surcharge may not be able to be extended to vapor pens. This is because the proposed regulations that the FDA shared in 2014 treat electronic cigarettes different than tobacco. If the government does not classify an e-cig as a tobacco cigarette (such as Atmos Jump for example), health insurance companies may not be able to either.

In 10 states, health insurance companies will not be able to charge ecig users more than any other customers. That’s because in these places the tobacco surcharge is illegal.

Insurance Coverage for Vapor Pens

Many people today begin using an e-cig to help them quit smoking. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance must pay for smoking cessation devices, which has led to questions about whether or not an insurance policy will pay for an electronic cigarette and the nicotine liquids to go in it.

The answer is that at this time health insurance does not have to cover electronic cigarettes because the FDA has not approved vapor pens as smoking cessation devices. If someday the FDA does extend that approval, then insurance companies would be obligated to pay for at least a portion of the cost of an e-cig.

For now, health insurance is not covering or being affected by vapor pen use, but the FDA has the potential to change everything soon or in the future.

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