Smoking cessation is when an individual starts the process of discontinuing cigarette smoking. With cigarettes containing tobacco and the addictive nicotine, quitting smoking is a hard task.
Most individuals fear the withdrawal side effects, mood swings and weight gain associated with stopping cigarettes/tobacco use. It’s often a long and stressful process that takes the individual months, sometimes years, to come to the difficult conclusion of, “it’s time to quit!”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have stated that people who stop smoking greatly reduce the risk of developing smoking-related diseases. With tobacco and nicotine dependence leading to serious health conditions, sometimes even death, it’s never too early to start a smoking cessation program.
Medicare Coverage for Smoking Cessation
Coming to the conclusion to quit smoking is hard enough. Getting help to quit smoking shouldn’t be. If you’ve finally decided to stop smoking, there is medical help and guidance out there that can be covered by your Medicare benefits.
If you have Traditional Medicare, your Medicare Part B benefits come in handy for smoking cessation. With Medicare Part B, you get 8 sessions of, “face-to-face”, counseling with a qualified physician or Medicare provider.
These sessions are covered each year and covered at 100% as long as the counseling sessions are with your physician or another healthcare provider that accepts Medicare assignment.
At 100% coverage, that means the Medicare beneficiary pays nothing! No coinsurance, no copayments, no deductible. While undergoing your smoking cessation counseling sessions, your provider may determine a need to treat or further diagnose an already existing problem.
This additional treatment would be considered diagnostic and therefore your provider may need to treat you for other symptoms or risk factors.
If this happens, Medicare may bill you for any diagnostic care you received during the preventative visits. This could also fall under your Medicare Part B benefits, in which case any of the diagnostic care or treatments would be covered at 80%.
To find out exactly how much each test or service may cost, you can talk to your healthcare provider. Determining factors will include if you have secondary insurance, your doctor’s office visit fees, whether or not your physician accepts Medicare assignment, the type of facility and where you get the test, procedure type or type of service.
A Little History on the Cigarette
When cigarettes first were invented in1865 by a gentleman named Washington Duke, there was no reason to believe in any dangerous outcomes from using the tobacco-based product.
Even by 1881, when cigarettes became widely popular, there was still little to no information about the risks associated with cigarette smoking. It wasn’t until1939 that a New Orlean’s based surgeon, Dr. Alton Ochser, linked lung cancer to smoking.
It then took another 7 years until it was published in an article titled, “Archives of Surgery”, before it was wider acknowledged by the public.
Finally, in 1964, the surgeon general reported the dangers associated with cigarette smoking. Once the public announcement was issued on smoking and health concerns, the US started to acknowledge cigarette smoking and health risks more seriously.
Why Smoking Cessation is so Important
According to the CDC, cigarettes contain a mixture of more than 7,000 chemicals, which they consider to be deadly. Within the 7,000 chemicals, there are hundreds that the CDC consider harmful and in fact 70 that contribute to cancer. Other serious medical conditions caused by cigarette smoking include:
- Cigarettes have been known to speed up the mental decline and have been linked to Alzheimer’s
- Smoking increases the risk of autoimmune disorders and has been linked to Lupus
- Smoking in pregnant women can cause pre-term labor, low birth weight, health complications to the child and doubles the chance for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- In men, cigarette smoking can cause erectile dysfunction (ED)
- In older smokers, cigarettes can lead to age-related macular degeneration and in some cases, blindness
- People who are susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are even more likely to contract the autoimmune disease
- Smoking increases the chance of snoring as well as increases the frequency of snoring for those who already do
- Cigarette smokers have higher rates for depression than non-smokers
- Heavy smoking leads to heartburn and smokers are 70% more likely to have the condition than those who don’t
- Smoking tobacco puts you at high risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and sudden death
Smoking leads to numerous types of cancers, not just lung cancer, including:
- Breast cancer
- Throat cancer
- Gum cancer
- Tongue cancer
- Larynx cancer
- Colon cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Liver cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney caner
There is no wrong time to quit smoking and people who do decrease their risk for disease and early death. According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, not only is now the right time to quit smoking, but the benefits of quitting smoking start almost immediately.
Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature will return to normal. Within 24 hours your risk of a heart attack decreases. Within 2 days of quitting, your sense of smell and taste will begin to return. Within 3 days your body is considered “free” of nicotine.
Within 3 weeks both your body and brain are no longer be addicted to nicotine. Within 3 months your lung function and blood circulation will have significantly improved. Within one year you will have a significantly decreased risk for both cardiac diseases and cancers. And lastly, within 15 years of quitting smoking, your health risks are similar to those of a non-tobacco user.
How to Get Even More Help on Smoking Cessation Costs
With Medicare already having a good smoking cessation program available to seniors, free of cost at that, one may ask what more do I need? As previously stated, during counseling your physician may determine a need to treat or further diagnose an already existing problem.
With that being said, any additional treatment would be considered diagnostic and therefore your provider may need to treat you for other symptoms or risk factors. This may require some out of pocket cost as Medicare will only cover 80% of the allowables.
The remaining 20% will be left for the beneficiary to pay. A Medicare Supplement Plan can help pick up some, if not all, of the costs associated with the copays, deductibles and coinsurance not covered with these types of services.
In some cases, your physician may recommend prescription medication for your smoking cessation program. With Medicare not having any medication benefits, a Medicare Part D or Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) will come in handy for costs associated with smoking cessation medications.
With the majority of seniors already being on a fixed income with their social security benefits, saving money is a top priority. Depending on the individual, we here at MedicareFAQ can help find the perfect Medicare Supplement Plan to fit not only your budget, but also your medical needs. We find that a perfect combination includes Original Medicare, a Medicare Supplement Plan and a Prescription Drug Plan.
Give us a call, or complete our online form.for more information. Our licensed insurance agents are readily available to assist with all your insurance needs. So, don’t hesitate, call or click today!
More Tools and Tips to Quit Smoking
Ask anyone who has ever smoked, or is a current smoker, and they will tell you, “quitting is hard!” Even when you’re mentally prepared to quit, the struggle still remains, and you may need some additional support. You can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or go to the smokefree website for more assistance in quitting. They provide services including:
- Free advice, counseling and support
- A personalized plan to help you quit
- Information on ways to quit and how to deal with the nicotine withdrawals
- Information on smoking cessation medications
- Free or discounted smoking cessation medications
- Referrals to other smoking cessation resources
- Mailings on self-help guides for smoking cessation
While quitting smoking isn’t easy, programs like this make it easier than ever to quit!