A new study looks at critical illness rates and provides further insight into the risks of smoking. As reported in National Underwriter:
A 25-year-old male non-smoker has a 24% chance of having a critical illness before reaching age 65 — and a 25-year-old male smoker has a 49% chance of incurring such an illness, according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.
Analysts at Milliman Inc., Seattle, included those figures in a national critical illness risk assessment study prepared for the AALTCI, Westlake Village, Calif.
The Milliman analysts used a definition of critical illness that includes heart attacks, strokes, and life-threatening occurrences of cancer.
See the full NU article here and read other coverage here.
A Medicaid program in Massachusetts has spurred a 26% reduction in smoking rates, and has prevented various hospitalizations and care associated with asthma, heart attacks, and other conditions. See more here.
Smoking cessation programs are an example of a wellness benefit that demonstrably works.
A $.62 Federal tax on cigarettes is getting some ink this week, just as a House vote to give the FDA regulatory power over the tobacco industry attracted attention last week.
Some are framing these developments as part of the larger healthcare reform debate and even suggesting the tax could help reduce other healthcare costs. Do the cost claims hold up? Hard to say, though employer-sponsored smoking cessation programs pay for themselves, one of the few examples of wellness initiatives with a clear return on investment.