Smoking Cessation Benefits
Smoking Cessation Benefits
The impact that tobacco use has on employers throughout the country is substantial, mostly due to increased medical expenses and lost productivity. Employees who smoke have a higher risk of many chronic medical conditions, are absent more often, and have lower productivity due to smoke breaks throughout the day. Think of the tremendous burden that smokers may be putting on your bottom line.
Quitting smoking is not an easy feat for most smokers. Nicotine addiction is a serious condition that requires targeted and often multifaceted treatment, including prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medication and counseling. Studies have shown that employees are much more likely to quit when smoking cessation resources are included as paid benefits in their health plan. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that smoking cessation therapy is the most cost-effective health benefit that employers can offer.
Designing a Smoking Cessation Benefit
Many managed care organizations and pharmacy benefit managers are starting to offer smoking cessation components to their plans. During your next plan renewal, inquire about smoking cessation options for your plan design. Off-renewal, you may also be able to add a benefit rider to support smoking cessation.
Based on studies reviewed by the CDC, they offer recommendations for smoking cessation coverage. First, the plan or rider should address the number of quit attempts covered per yearthe CDC recommends at least two per plan member. Also, the CDC advocates a two-pronged approach to coverage:
Other Actions to Take
In addition to the suggestions above for your plan design, there are other strategies you can implement through your health plan and in your workplace to help promote smoking cessation:
ROI for Smoking Cessation Benefits
Many employers do not realize the full cost of smoking to their company. Smokers are much more likely to develop serious chronic medical conditions, visit the doctor more often, be absent from work with an illness, or have a short- or long-term disabilityall of which are very costly for your company's health plan and productivity.
In fact, smokers cost private employers in the United States an extra $5,816 per year compared to nonsmokers, according to researchers at Ohio State University. Of that amount, $3,077 comes from smoking breaks, since smokers, on average, take approximately five breaks a day compared to the three breaks reserved for most workers. Excess health care expenses account for $2,056, and the remaining costs are due to increased absenteeism and lost productivity.
Implementing a smoking cessation program and incorporating benefits into your health plan can lower the number of employees who smoke and dramatically affect your bottom line now and in the future.
This copy of ThinkTank Insurance Partners Plan Designs is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice.
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