As open enrollment comes closer (November 1st)) and you need to contact your health insurance agent looking for your best health plan, you will be faced with four critical questions.

  1. Your age?
  2. Your location? (many states have different regulations)
  3. Do you need an individual or family plan?

These questions are pretty straightforward and obviously affect your premium. But to be honest there is not much you can do to change the answers.  The fourth question is different!

The question is straightforward and the answer is something you CAN do something about!

  • Do you use tobacco?

You cannot be refused a medical plan whatever your answer but it will affect your premium and possibly your co-insurance terms. (this varies from state to state but maybe up to 50% increase in premium)

. WHY?

 “Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the US, making it critically important that prevention and cessation programs are available to help people break their tobacco addiction for good.” (American Lung Association)

“Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and can cause a litany of other health complications” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

That’s the bad stuff!

Now the good news

Among the 10 essential benefits that every medical plan must offer are the preventative services. 

There are eighteen FREE preventative services which include tobacco use screening and interventions, blood pressure screening, and lung cancer screening.

There are smoking cessation programs in every state, many are freely available.

Over 80% of US citizens benefit from premium tax relief or state aid when choosing their best health plan. Don’t miss out.

If you or any of your dependents use tobacco (in any form) take advantage of the cessation programs and interventions available.

Here are just a few of the possible benefits. [drawn from American Cancer Society]


  • 12 hrs the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops
  • 90 days your blood circulation and lung function improve 
  • 1 year your risk of a heart attack is noticeably lower
  • 5 years the risk of associated cancers is halved
  • 15 years  Your risk of a coronary is no worse than a non-smoker


You will probably have saved enough each year to pay for your healthcare insurance!

And, off the wall, break the habit with a banana. Make a decision and wherever you kept your cigarette packet – keep a banana but throw away the lighter!  Bananas don’t burn well!

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

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