New study shows non-smokers more likely to choose high-deductible health plans

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New study shows non-smokers more likely to choose high-deductible health plans
New study shows non-smokers more likely to choose high-deductible health plans

High-deductible health plans are becoming popular in the health insurance industry nowadays, and for good reason. They have been proven to help Americans cut down on medical expenses and become more informed about the healthcare they receive.

Now, industry experts are interested to know which populations found the new model appealing. In one new study, research shows that HDHPs are particularly attractive to individuals who lead healthy lifestyles by choosing not to smoke cigarettes.

Smoking and HDHPs
A study recently published in the journal PLOS ONE discusses the associations between HDHP enrollment and smoking cigarettes. Researchers from the University of Michigan conducted a cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative data that took into account information collected from nearly 7,000 privately insured, middle-aged Americans between 2007 and 2008. The subjects had participated in the 2007 Health Tracking Household Survey and had self-reported their smoking status.

The study's investigators determined what kind of health insurance participants were enrolled in, then used multivariate logistic regression to measure associations between HDHP enrollment and daily smoking habits. They discovered from the data that subjects who were enrolled in an HDHP were less likely to smoke every day compared to those who had another kind of employee-sponsored health coverage. In conclusion, the researchers stated that this finding may contribute to the fact that people who live healthy lifestyles may be inclined to choose HDHPs over other types of health insurance.

Making healthy behavior choices can significantly impact a person's life. Specifically, choosing not to smoke cigarettes can prevent the long-term health risks associated with the activity.

Save your life by not smoking
In the U.S., tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable and premature death. Every year, it kills approximately 443,000 Americans and costs the U.S. about $96 billion in direct medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity, according to Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also notes that more than 3,800 people younger than age 18 smoke their first cigarettes each day and more than 1,000 of them become daily smokers before they are legally eligible to vote.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aims to address the problem of tobacco use that plagues the country. The law initiated the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which expands access to treatment programs to help smokers quit at no cost. Opportunities like this can be especially beneficial to young people who partake in the risky behavior, as they have the most to lose by smoking.

Besides the risk of early death, smokers have an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung diseases, like chronic bronchitis and emphysema, states the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Risky behaviors affect the workplace, too
Many American employees recognize that smoking cigarettes not only negatively affects the individual, but also hurts companies. Poor health, as smokers can have or develop, can increase rates of absenteeism and low productivity in the workplace. As a result, some businesses utilize employee wellness programs that encourage healthy behaviors, like smoking cessation, and offer health insurance options, like consumer-directed healthcare plans, that aim to make people become more informed about their health.

CDHPs typically combine an HDHP with a health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). This type of plan is showing up more frequently as an option for employees among traditional plans, such as health maintenance organizations and preferred provider organizations. 

*Note: Content provided is not intended as legal or tax advice.