American Lung Associaton report points out health plans lacking options to help smokers quit

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    (Nicotine gum photo via ShutterStock)

    All U.S. health plans are required to cover measures to help subscribers quit smoking.


    Now a report from the American Lung Association is spotlighting health insurance plans that haven’t published a full list of the covered options, which include nicotine gum, patches, varenicline (sold under the brand name Chantix) and bupropion.

    An association research team reviewed benefit lists from dozens of insurance plans that participate in marketplace exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.

    “What we want is to make sure that health plans are indeed offering the required coverage and making sure that they have all seven medications on their formulary and all three forms of counseling available to everyone on their plan,” said Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy.

    That smoking-cessation help should be available without cost sharing, Sward said.

    Several plans in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were spotlighted in the report, including plans from Aetna.

    “Aetna covers smoking-cessation drugs and programs as part of its exchange plans, in accordance with ACA requirements,” the company responded by email. “However, only prescription drugs are listed in the formulary. Over-the-counter drugs and programs are not listed in the formulary but are still covered.”

    “We would not be able to participate in the exchange if they weren’t covered,” said spokesman Walter Cherniak.

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