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The Health Risks and Financial Cost of Smoking

Diana Bui June 4th, 2012 0 comments
Smoking and health insurance

In Australia, smoking is the single most preventable cause of illness and death.  It is estimated that smoking-related health issues will kill at least half of the smoking population.  Over the years, the government has used tactics such as taxes, preventative health campaigns, and advertising restrictions to get people to quit smoking.

The Financial Cost of Smoking

These days, a pack of cigarettes costs around $21.  In Australia, the average smoker smokes approximately 20 cigarettes daily.  Based on the price above, if you are a smoker, you should expect to pay close to $7,700 per year.

Image by Haprog_

That is a lot of money that could be used on something else.  For example, the $7,700 could be used to pay for a tropical getaway.

Smoking and Health Insurance Costs

Smoking will definitely affect your wallet and your health.  No surprise there.  What may surprise you is smoking may not affect the cost of your health insurance, especially if you have private health insurance.

Private health insurance is community rated – meaning everyone in the same community pays the same premium for the same cover.  It does not matter if there are specific underlying risk factors for some applicants.  This makes health insurance affordable for everyone – even those who are in poor health.  But is this really fair when the person is in poor health due to their smoking habit?

Other types of insurance are risk rated – meaning that after the underlying risk factors are discussed, each person will be charged a premium that accords with the insurer’s risk in covering that individual.

Smokers and non-smokers pay the same community rated premium for private health insurance.  Non-smokers therefore help fund the smokers’ health insurance premium costs, which strikes many people as unfair.  However, if the smokers with private health insurance were charged higher premiums, some of them might decide to drop their private health insurance policy completely, and therefore become more of a burden to the public health care system instead.

Quit While You’re Still Healthy

There is still a debate regarding the health care costs of smoking.  For example, smokers often have more health problems than non-smokers.  However, because non-smokers tend to live longer, they can accumulate more health costs as they get older.

If you quit smoking, the amount you save on tobacco alone will really add up over the years.  Over a lifetime, you can lose tens of thousands of dollars through your habit.  There’s never been a better time to do your wallet and your health a favour than by quitting right now.

Smoking is one of the hardest habits to break.  Some smokers can quit cold turkey.  Others can take years to quit.  The sooner you start trying to quit, the sooner you will succeed in becoming a non-smoker.

Here are 5 easy tips that may help you with this process:

  1. Make a plan to quit smoking and stick with it
  2. Stay positive and keep yourself busy
  3. Get help and support from your family and friends
  4. Do not surround yourself with smokers
  5. Have patience and don’t stop trying

The good news is that it is never too late to quit smoking.  Plus, when you quit smoking, your health risks will be greatly reduced.  Most importantly, you will feel great knowing that you have overcome one of the hardest habits to break.

Disclaimer: The above information is correct and current at the time of publication.

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