HARRISBURG, Pa., April 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Acting Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller issued a consumer alert today to inform customers that tobacco cessation programs are free under the Affordable Care Act. This alert followed a PA Insurance Department reminder issued to all insurers offering health insurance policies through the ACA marketplaces that they are required to provide tobacco cessation at no cost to policy holders. A recent American Lung Association report indicated some insurers were not complying with the tobacco cessation coverage mandate of the ACA.
"Though the American Lung Association report showed Pennsylvania insurers are doing a better job than those in most other states of covering tobacco cessation treatment, most health plans did not provide coverage for the full range of programs that should be available under preventive care," Acting Commissioner Miller said. She noted most Pennsylvania insurance plans, according to the American Lung Association report, are not covering all seven FDA approved tobacco cessation medications.
"Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death," added Acting Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy. "An estimated twenty-one percent of the 2.1 million adults in Pennsylvania continue to smoke. We know that a combination of counseling and medication is the most effective treatment. Pennsylvanians covered under ACA should have access to the broad range of cessation programs available."
Pennsylvanians attempting to quit smoking who have purchased health insurance through marketplaces created by the ACA are mandated, by this law, to have access to tobacco cessation treatments without any cost-sharing.
"My department is working with insurers to help them understand the ACA, but I also want to educate consumers who have policies under this law so they can get the coverage to which they are entitled," Miller said. She noted that approximately 472,000 Pennsylvanians have insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Pennsylvania has resources available in all 67 counties to help residents quit smoking. The ACA guidance for insurers includes providing a benefit to cover screening for tobacco use. Eight Regional Primary Contractors are responsible for offering evidence-based training to clinicians and healthcare systems to implement an effective screening intervention with every patient to identify and document tobacco use status.
The ACA guidance for insurers includes covering two quit attempts per year consisting of counseling and coverage for all FDA approved medications. Information on individual, group and telephone cessation counseling programs throughout the commonwealth is available at http://www.health.pa.gov or by calling 1-877-724-3258.
For more information on insurance products and protections go to www.insurance.pa.gov or call 877-881-6388.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, Insurance Department, 717-787-3289
Amy Worden, Department of Health, 717-787-1783
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance; Pennsylvania Department of Health