Health Insurance Rates Could Potentially Rise for E-Cigarette Users


No one seems to know what to do with e-cigarettes, except users, that is. Consumers using these nicotine-delivery products are clearly in favor of them. Sales are soaring, set to reach $1.7 billion this year. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not convinced of their safety, lumping them in with cigarettes when addressing safety warnings.

And because of that, health insurance companies are considering doing the same, which would drive up health insurance rates for e-cigarette users.

The Affordable Care Act and Tobacco Use

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) gives insurance companies the right to charge tobacco users health insurance rates as much as 50 percent higher than non-users, according to ABC News. Private health insurance companies often look to the FDA rules for guidance. And despite the fact that e-cigarettes contain no tobacco, the FDA wants to regulate them as if they do.

The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes to address any health concern, even quitting smoking. Yet that’s exactly what consumers use them for. In every adverse event published on the FDA website since 2009, the consumer reported using e-cigarettes to quit smoking. As an approved product, e-cigarettes would likely be encouraged by health insurance companies.

However, it’s unlikely that e-cigarettes will become an approved product any time soon. Adverse events, mostly associated with poor manufacturing standards, are one problem, while the lack of human health studies has the FDA spooked. The same lack of information makes it difficult for health insurance companies to set reasonable rates.

How E-Cigarette Users Should Address the Problem

For now, e-cigarette users are not required to disclose that they use them. Insurance applications ask consumers if they have used tobacco products in the past six months. The FDA might consider e-cigarettes a tobacco product, but there are no laws yes classifying them as such.

Photo credit: Michael Dorausch