It’s really not surprising that insurance companies charge higher rates for smokers. After all, smoking puts you at increased risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke. This year, the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, has caused premiums to go even higher for smokers with insurers sometimes charging 50% more if you use tobacco products.
However, once you switch to electronic cigarettes, is it fair that you should continue to pay the higher rates? After all, electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco and they reduce the health risks associated with smoking. These products do not emit smoke and do not contain tobacco, tar, or any of the many carcinogens known to exist in combustible cigarettes. For many vapers, the potential surcharges are reason for pause when filling out insurance applications.
Typically, consumers are asked two key questions that determine if they will have to pay the higher rates: Do you currently use tobacco products? Are you currently using any smoking cessation products? Vapers must think carefully before answering these questions. On one hand, electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco so technically, vapers can easily answer no to the first question. However, the second question can make things a little tricky.
The FDA has not approved electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation, but many people use them in that way. So if a consumer has completely stopped using cigarettes and is only vaping, then the answer to both questions might be “No” and the surcharge would be waived. In fact, the only way the insurer will even know that the consumer uses electronic cigarettes is if the information is volunteered.
Ultimately, each consumer will have to decide how to answer application questions until the FDA officially regulates electronic cigarettes and forces a legal definition. At that point, insurers will most likely be forced to automatically classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, forcing vapers to pay the higher rates.