ACA Can Help Smokers Quit, Experts Write

A perspective published in the New England Journal of Medicine affirms that provisions of the Affordable Care Act will allow improved coverage of smoking cessation tools, which could be a big boost in the number of smokers planning to quit.

In its review of tobacco-dependence treatments, the 2008 clinical practice guideline of the U.S. Public Health Service concluded, “Indeed, it is difficult to identify any other condition that presents such a mix of lethality, prevalence, and neglect, despite effective and readily available interventions.” The low utilization of clinical cessation interventions by smokers and physicians alike is partly attributable to inadequate insurance coverage: many health insurers still fail to cover the evidence-based counseling and medication treatments recommended in the 2008 guideline. Even when these treatments are covered, barriers to utilization such as copayments and prior-authorization requirements make obtaining them costly and inconvenient. Furthermore, complex, unclear, and variable tobacco-cessation coverage can be confusing for both physicians and patients, making it harder for physicians to help patients quit smoking.

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Improved coverage of cessation treatments increases attempts to quit, treatment use, and rates of successful quitting. In particular, coverage that reimburses cessation interventions may increase the chances that physicians will intervene with smokers. Methods that rapidly and easily connect smokers with cessation-treatment resources also increase treatment utilization and cessation rates.

Link to the article on NEJM: http://bit.ly/1wYPqWE