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Cheap health insurance helps you quit smoking

Given the mountain of evidence showing the link between nicotine and a range of usually terminal heath conditions, itís perhaps slightly surprising cigarettes are still sold. When a product is so potentially lethal, the FDA or some other responsible government agency should step in with a timely ban. That tobacco is still sold in a variety of different forms says a great deal about the nature of our society. Perhaps prohibition would not be a success. When it was tried with alcohol, it simply made smuggling a good career choice. But whether itís the power of the tobacco lobby or the lack of positive influence in the medical profession, thereís no sign of any formal limitation on the sale of the product. Smoking in public is increasingly limited, but anything more than that seems a step too far into the privacy of American citizens. Itís the right of all good Americans to kill themselves by whatever they do in their own homes. The medical profession does, of course, have a slight conflict of interest. Doctors have a duty to promote the health of their patients, yet many of the treatments for the diseases caused by tobacco are very profitable to hospitals, the drug and equipment manufacturers, and the doctors. If the healthcare services sector moved too aggressively into prevention, there would be fewer billable treatments for terminal patients.

According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco is the biggest cause of preventable death in the US, causing almost one-third of all cancer deaths. Itís therefore good to be able to report Medicare will now be paying for counseling smokers who want to quit. In the past, access to supportive talk was limited to those who had been diagnosed with one of the usually fatal smoking-related diseases. Now anyone older who wants to quit can be counseled on how best to do it. This is not to say that formal programs have such an impressive track record. Those that do little more than hand out patches and gum have poor success rates. One-to-one or small group counseling have the best outcomes. When the total cost for the treatment of tobacco-related diseases estimated estimated to be $200 billion over the next five years, anything that reduces the cost in human misery is to be applauded.

Now put this into context. One of the major problems with the current healthcare service is the rising costs of treatment. Although GOP politicians would like you to focus on the health insurance side of the equation, premiums only keep rising so fast because everything from drugs to medical devices to the pay expected by health professionals has been rising faster than inflation (despite the recession). So there we are searching the internet for quotes to find cheap health insurance when what we should really be supporting are all the initiatives to control or bring down the costs of treatments. Quitting smoking is not only good for us as individuals, it also saves the healthcare industry billions of dollars, savings that can all be passed on to us as reduced premiums.

 


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