The hidden premium hike in ObamaCare

Generally, ObamaCare bars insurers from charging higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. But there is an exception, as John Tozzi writes in Businessweek:

...for the 19 percent of American adults who smoke: Insurance companies can charge them premiums as much as 50 percent higher than nonsmokers will pay.

Not all insurers will squeeze smokers. Some states, including California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, ban the practice. Even where it's allowed, insurance carriers may want to avoid alienating customers with higher premiums. Many are forgoing the surcharges or tacking on smaller fees than the federal law allows.

Still, some health plans in at least eight states are charging tobacco users the maximum 50 percent extra, according to data gathered by ValuePenguin, an insurance comparison website, and analyzed by Bloomberg Businessweek. That group includes Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Barack Obama has been on the warpath regarding income inequality. The irony is that low-income Americans are more likely to smoke than the rich so the higher premiums will disproportionally hurt them-furthering income inequality.

How will the feds know whether one smokes? They depend on honesty but if insured people are caught lying insurance companies can retroactively try to collect the surcharge.

What is next?

Is there any difference between smokers who may harm their health and poor eaters who may likewise harm their health? Or people who don't exercise? Who engage in high-risk hobbies and sexual practices?

The point is that smokers are being targeted -- as are tobacco companies. One tends to be low-income, thus belying Obama's claim to care about inequality. Tobacco companies tend to have their operations in red states and their executives probably are GOP donors.

Is this one more way to indirectly cut funding for Republicans?

 

Generally, ObamaCare bars insurers from charging higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. But there is an exception, as John Tozzi writes in Businessweek:

...for the 19 percent of American adults who smoke: Insurance companies can charge them premiums as much as 50 percent higher than nonsmokers will pay.

Not all insurers will squeeze smokers. Some states, including California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, ban the practice. Even where it's allowed, insurance carriers may want to avoid alienating customers with higher premiums. Many are forgoing the surcharges or tacking on smaller fees than the federal law allows.

Still, some health plans in at least eight states are charging tobacco users the maximum 50 percent extra, according to data gathered by ValuePenguin, an insurance comparison website, and analyzed by Bloomberg Businessweek. That group includes Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Barack Obama has been on the warpath regarding income inequality. The irony is that low-income Americans are more likely to smoke than the rich so the higher premiums will disproportionally hurt them-furthering income inequality.

How will the feds know whether one smokes? They depend on honesty but if insured people are caught lying insurance companies can retroactively try to collect the surcharge.

What is next?

Is there any difference between smokers who may harm their health and poor eaters who may likewise harm their health? Or people who don't exercise? Who engage in high-risk hobbies and sexual practices?

The point is that smokers are being targeted -- as are tobacco companies. One tends to be low-income, thus belying Obama's claim to care about inequality. Tobacco companies tend to have their operations in red states and their executives probably are GOP donors.

Is this one more way to indirectly cut funding for Republicans?

 

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