ACA Tobacco Penalties Expected To Impact Poor Hardest.

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Affordable Care Act penalties targeting smokers and tobacco chewers are expected to impact the poor the hardest, USA Today (9/11/13) reports. Pursuant to ACA provisions, in some states, smokers and chewers will “have to pay as much as 50% more in premiums than non-smokers” when they “sign up for insurance through state health exchanges that open next month.” Georges Benjamin, executive director at the American Public Health Association, stated: “Tobacco disproportionately targets low-income communities. They are also more likely to die prematurely for tobacco-related conditions.” According to Benjamin, “that means low-income people may be taking a harder financial hit when they may need more help, especially if they are dealing with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or lung cancer.” The American Lung Association is among the groups that oppose the tobacco surcharges.

The AP (9/12)/13 notes that a “major reason” the ACA was enacted was because lower-income people “are more likely to work in jobs that do not offer health insurance.” As a result, the ACA smoking penalties have “drawn criticism for effectively pricing people out of insurance.”

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