Medicare Expands Coverage for Smoking Cessation
Article date: September 1, 2010
By: Eleni Berger
More smokers on Medicare can now get help kicking the habit, the agency has announced.
Medicare will now pay for cessation counseling for any beneficiary who wants to quit. Until now, this service was covered only for Medicare recipients who had a smoking-related illness or symptoms of such an illness.
Smoking is linked to many types of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases like emphysema and bronchitis. Quitting can bring immediate health benefits, even to people who have smoked a very long time or who already have a smoking-related illness.
Millions could benefit
About 4.5 million adults over age 65 (the age of Medicare eligibility) smoke, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Tobacco-related disease will cost Medicare about $800 billion between 1995 and 2015, the agency estimates.
“Giving older Americans and persons with disabilities who rely on Medicare the coverage they need for counseling treatments that can aid them in quitting will have a positive impact on their health and quality of life,” Center for Medicare and Medicare Services Administrator Don Berwick, MD, said in a statement.
Smokers will be able to get counseling for 2 cessation attempts per year; each attempt may include up to 4 sessions. A qualified physician or other Medicare-recognized practitioner must provide the counseling.
Medicare beneficiaries are already eligible to get prescription medicines that can help them quit smoking through the Medicare Prescription Drug Program (also known as Medicare Part D).
For more information on the benefits of quitting smoking, see our Guide to Quitting Smoking.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.
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