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Higher Cost of Healthcare: Deterrent for Smokers Essay

This research is focused on the hypothesis that if an employer would require a higher healthcare cost for employees who smoke, would this prevent them from continuing the vice and quit smoking for good? Literature Review According to Andre, Velasquez & Mazur (2008) “the American Medical Association recently revealed that at least 25 cents of every health care dollar is spent on the treatment of diseases or disabilities that result from potentially changeable behaviors. ” Smoking, by itself, costs the the U. S. health care system over $65 billion annually (par. 1).

Meanwhile, in an article entitled “Smokers Pay More for Health Benefits: Employers Ask Smokers to Pay Higher Health-Care Premiums” written by Lisa Cornwell, she said that a number of companies have already imposed higher health care premiums to employees who smoke (par. 2). These companies, both private and public, resort to this measure to entice the smokers to quit smoking for good. Some companies impose $20 to $50 a month for these employees. According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey: “Smoking is costing the economy” (cited in Cornwell,2006, par. 2 ).

Significantly, the “employers are charging smokers extra for health insurance in an effort to rein in costs. The estimated costs of medical expenses and lost productivity are about twice the cost of cigarettes per pack or more” (cited in Cornwell,2006, par. 2 ). Additionally, in an interview by Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, she remarked that “In addition to employers having to pay out more in health-care costs, public opinion is now solidly on the side of eliminating smoking, and workers are realizing increasingly that they are having to pay for others’ lifestyle choices” (cited in Cornwell, 2006, par. 0).

National Business Group on Health is a non profit organization with more than 200 member employers. Despite the imposition of higher healthcare cost, some companies offer programs that will entice smokers to quit smoking. Once they sign up and complete the program, they are waived of a certain amount which is usually required for smoking employees. However if they resume the vice, the fee will be asked of them in the following year. Basing from the number of the employees that signed up for the program, it appears to be a motivating factor for smokers to finally give up on smoking.

However, an issue cannot be without an opposing side. Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, remarked “making smokers pay more for insurance for their health choices isn’t inherently wrong [but] do we really want to live in a world where employers penalize us for everything in our private lives that isn’t healthy? ” (cited in Cornwell, 2006, par. 10). Methodology This study is conducted through interview of sixty (60) respondents. The respondents’ age ranged from 23 to 40 years of age. Among them were 22 females and 38 males.

They were all smokers and of different histories. The range of their ages was 14 to 27 when they started smoking tobacco/cigarettes. The main questions asked from the respondents are as follows: (a) How many sticks of cigarettes do you smoke per day? (b) On average, how may times have you consulted with a medical doctor with sickness relating to your vice? (c) Are you willing to shoulder higher healthcare cost for smoking? (d) If you had no choice but to shoulder higher health care cost, would you quit smoking for good?

Data Analysis and Results Among the sixty (60) respondents, the cigarette packs consumed per day range from 3 sticks to 1 pack a day. A pack contains 20 sticks of cigarette. As regards medical conditions, 56% of the smokers admitted to have smoking-related illnesses such as cough and sinus infections. In a year, they visit the doctor 2 to 3 times for such sickness. When asked if they are willing to shoulder additional healthcare cost for their vice, 40% said yes, since they are willing to take responsibility for their own vice. However 60% said no.

On the imposition of a higher health cost from their employers; and if this would make them quit smoking for good, 38. 3% said they would definitely quit smoking, 43. 3% said they would make an effort to quit smoking, 18. 3% said it would not make any difference in their smoking habits. Discussion Basing from the interviews, only 18% of the respondents are adamant to quitting smoking despite imposing higher costs for healthcare. Significantly, these respondents have been smoking for almost their lives and have not yet experienced any serious illness associated with their smoking habit.

One of the respondents remarked that he is willing to shoulder a few more of his income and earnings since smoking, according to him, does him good that is worth his money. However, more significantly, 38% are willing to give up the vice and another 43% were willing to make an effort to quit for good. Basing from this research, it shows that higher health care cost can be an effective deterrent for smoking. One of those willing to give up smoking for good was a single woman who said she could instead use the money for clean fun than for smoking-related sicknesses.

Conclusion and Recommendation Judging from the result of this study and various interviews of employers (as stated in Cornwell’s article), the additional expenses for health care for smoking apparently discourage smokers from pursuing the vice. Evidence shows that most are willing to undergo therapy and programs that will help eliminate the tobacco habit for good, as they are to shoulder the expense of consultation, treatment and medication for such voluntary health risk.


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