State Health Reform; Tobacco; Health Care Costs; Chronic Diseases and Conditions
In the United States, about 70% of smokers want to quit and 50% make a quit attempt each year. Unfortunately, only a small percent are successful, due in part to the lack of easy access to tobacco dependence treatments that have been proven effective. In light of the societal costs of tobacco-related illness, government must do everything it can to encourage and enable smokers to quit.
The tobacco use landscape in this country has changed in recent years -- people with lower income and education levels have a much higher probability of smoking. For instance, the smoking rate for those with a college degree is under 10%, but for those insured by Medicaid it is over 35%. Unfortunately, Medicaid coverage for tobacco cessation treatment depends on the state in which you live. While federal health reform guarantees nationwide coverage for pregnant women, it does not for all other Medicaid beneficiaries. Some states have made this a public health priority, but others have not.
Ku, L., Zauche, D., & Forbes, E. R. (2012). Saving money: The Massachusetts tobacco cessation Medicaid benefit: A policy paper. Washington, D.C.: Partnership for Prevention.