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How Does Tobacco and Smoking Affect Your Medicare Supplement Insurance?

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How Does Tobacco Use Impact Your Medigap Coverage?
It’s true. If you smoke or use tobacco in any way, you will likely pay more for Medigap coverage. Medigap—officially called Medicare Supplement insurance—is private insurance that closes some of the expense gaps between what original Medicare pays and what you don’t want to pay out-of-pocket. While Medigap coverage can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, your premium can increase because of tobacco use.

Transcript:
If you smoke or use tobacco in any way, you will likely pay more for Medigap coverage. Medigap—officially called Medicare Supplement insurance—is a private insurance that closes some of the expense gaps between what Medicare parts A and B pay and what you pay. While Medigap coverage can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, your premium can increase because of tobacco use.
The following are a few considerations to take into account if you smoke or use tobacco in some other way when you’re ready to apply for Medigap coverage.
HOW DOES YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY KNOW ABOUT YOUR TOBACCO USE?
When you apply for a Medigap plan, you will be asked about tobacco use. Self-reporting your tobacco use is important because if you don’t claim to be a smoker and the insurance company finds out otherwise, you could be on the hook for fraud. Insurance companies communicate with your physicians, for instance, and if your doctor labels you a smoker on your medical reports, that information becomes discoverable.
WHY DO YOU PAY MORE FOR INSURANCE BECAUSE OF SMOKING?
Nearly 9% of people age 65 and older smoke, according to the CDC, and every six seconds, someone dies from a disease related to tobacco use. Smoking causes or contributes to diseases like lung cancer, throat cancer, COPD, emphysema, and others.
Private insurance companies that offer Medigap coverage understand the health risks of smoking; consequently, they increase their premiums for people who use tobacco to offset the risks of insuring that person.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD?
If you apply for Medigap coverage during your open enrollment period, insurance companies can’t increase their premiums for pre-existing conditions and the like. Medicare Supplement insurance company can’t even deny you coverage based on tobacco use. It can, however, offer a higher premium than a non-smoker would pay.
WHAT IF YOU QUIT SMOKING?
If you quit smoking well before you become eligible for Medigap coverage, you won’t have to worry about increased premiums. The insurance company may ask if you have smoked in the last six months, for instance, or the last five years. Every company has different protocols related to tobacco use.

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