US could save $ 2.6 billion a year if only 1% of Medicaid users quit smoking, study finds
- While only 14 percent of the US population smokes, more than a quarter of the people on Medicaid do
- Taxpayers shoulder 60 percent of the burden of smoking-related costs in the US.
- If only one percent of Medicaid patients quit, it would save states between $ 2.5 and $ 630 million a year, a study by the University of California, San Francisco found
If only one percent of current smokers quit on Medicaid, the program would save $ 2.6 billion, a new study suggests.
Smoking is at a historic low in the US, but rates are considerably higher among Americans who are insured through the public health plan.
And smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, as well as the costs associated with these deadly chronic diseases.
But if only 74,000 Americans – only 4,000 more than living in a square mile of Manhattan – stopped smoking at Medicaid, it would save every state an average of $ 25 million a year, research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
Smoking costs US taxpayers nearly $ 40 billion a year, but if only one percent of people quit Medicaid, the program would save $ 2.6 billion a year, new research suggests
Currently, 14 percent of the general American population smoked, but more than a quarter (24.5 percent) of Medicaid recipients still use cigarettes.
Medicaid recipients are usually poorer and have a higher degree of mental illness – and people in both categories are constantly being targeted by tobacco industry marketing.
That quarter of Medicaid recipients are at a much higher risk for not just lung cancer, other chronic lung diseases, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer and problems in just about every part of the body.
According to a 2014 study, US taxpayers account for roughly part of the total economic burden of these and more smoking-related diseases, which costs Medicaid approximately $ 39.6 billion a year.
Stopping smoking is not only in the best interests of smokers – it is in the interest of US tax dollars.
HOW MANY STATES CAN SAVE IF 1% OF SMOKERS STOP ON MEDICAID
The amount of money each state can save as one percent if the smokers insured by Medicaid quit varies from state to state, depending on the population and the number of smokers.
Some of the top savers would be:
- California: $ 630.2 million
- New Mexico: $ 381.4 million
- Texas: $ 153.6 million
To determine how much money quitting smoking has the potential to save Americans, UCSF researchers looked at 2017 data on how many Medicare recipients smoked in each state.
Previous studies had found that every percent percent of dropouts saves around 0.118 percent of what the US spends per person in health care.
State populations and smoking rates vary widely across the US – so the amount of money they can save when smokers quit does so.
Despite the fact that smoking rates in California are lower than the national average (11 percent of the population smokes), the state has the most to gain from quitting smoking.
According to the new study, if the rate of smoking among California Medicaid recipients fell from 15.4 percent to 14.4 percent, the state would save as much as $ 630.2 million in a single year.
Even in states with the smallest populations and high smoking percentages, significant savings can be achieved.
If 40.3 percent of Medicaid smokers in South Dakota were to quit, the state would still save $ 2.5 million a year.
"There is no doubt that reducing smoking is associated with lower health costs, but it is generally believed that it will take years to see these savings, which has discouraged many states from helping smokers quit smoking." author study Stanton Glantz, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.
But he points out that, in fact, the diseases that kill most smokers are not lung or other forms of cancer – which require a lot of time to develop – but a heart attack and a stroke that happen faster and expensive more preventable.
And smoking cessation programs are not nearly as expensive as Medicaid providers seem to believe, says Dr. Glantz.
& # 39; You only have to prevent a few heart attacks from paying one of these stop programs & # 39; s, he explains.
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