The Value of Providing Smoking Cessation Coverage to Employees

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Smokers who quit will, on average, live longer and have fewer years living with disability. Smoking causes heart disease, stroke, multiple cancers, respiratory diseases and other costly illnesses. Secondhand smoke causes lung disease and lung cancer. Smoking increases the risk of costly complications to pregnancy, such as pre-term delivery and low birth-weight infants. More than 70% of smokers want to quit, but few succeed without help. Tobacco use treatment doubles quitting success rates.

Smoking Costs Florida $19.6 Billion a Year:

  • $4.4 billion in workplace productivity losses
  • $7.9 billion in costs of premature death
  • $7.3 billion in direct healthcare expenditures

Smokers Have Additional Medical Expenses:

  • According to the CDC, additional lifetime medical expenses for smokers compared with nonsmokers (in 2002 dollars)
  • Male smokers exceed $15,000
  • Women smokers exceed $17,000

Smokers Use More Resources Than Nonsmokers:

  • Higher average insured payments ($1145 vs. $762)
  • Higher average outpatient payments ($122 vs. $75)
  • Increased hospital admissions/1,000 employees (124 vs. 76)
  • Increased hospital days/1,000 employees (800 vs. 381)
  • Increased average length of stay/1,000 employees (6.47 vs. 5.03 days)

Smoking Impacts Employee Productivity:

  • Smokers are absent 1.5 times more often than nonsmokers
  • Smokers average 6.7 health-related absences per year compared with nonsmokers (4.4 days)
  • Smokers average 76.5 hours lost per year compared with nonsmokers (42.8 hours)
  • Work time spent on smoking-related activities results in 4 weeks/year of nonproductive time
Additional Annual Employer Costs Due to Lost Productivity and Medical Expenses: $3,400

Tobacco Dependency is a Relapsing Chronic Condition

Treatment for smoking cessation is not one-size-fits-all. Just like any other medical condition, everyone responds to treatment differently and it may take multiple attempts before a person quits for good. It is also normal for patients to try more than one treatment before finding the right one.

What Works to Help Smokers Quit?

  • At least four counseling sessions of at least 30 minutes each, including telephone and individual counseling sessions
  • Access to all FDA-approved smoking cessation prescription and over-the-counter treatments
  • Counseling and medication coverage for at least two smoking cessation attempts per year
  • No or minimal co-pays or deductibles for counseling and medications

What are the Benefits for Employers?

  • Immediate decrease in medical and life insurance costs of at least $210 for each employee or dependent who quits smoking
  • Savings may be underestimated, as it does not include other smoking-related conditions or disability, lost work time, or replacement costs

What is the Cost to Employers?

  • According to recent survey, the per-member-per-month (PMPM) cost for a smoking cessation benefit (pharmacotherapy and behavioral support) ranged from $0.20 to $0.45
  • In a 2005 analysis, the PMPM cost for pharmacotherapy alone for diabetes, hypertension and depression ranged from $3.41 to $5.10
  • Cost analyses showed that smoking cessation benefits are either cost-saving or cost-neutral over a period of 3 to 5 years

Is it Cost Effective for Employers?

  • Smoking cessation is as cost-effective as childhood immunizations and daily aspirin use in high-risk adults
  • Smoking cessation is more cost-effective than other frequently covered adult-disease-prevention interventions (e.g. hypertension, high cholesterol)