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Penalty Could Keep Smokers out of Health Overhaul

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Here's a possible new cost for people with the cigarette habit.

Experts say millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties under President Barack Obama's health care law.

The Affordable Care Act allows health insurers to charge smokers buying an individual policy up to 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.

A 60-year-old smoker could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of normal premiums.

Younger smokers could be charged lower penalties under rules proposed last fall by the Obama administration.

Workers with job-based coverage can avoid tobacco penalties by joining a smoking cessation program.

The older smokers buying individual coverage could face a heavy financial hit at a time in life when smoking-related illnesses typically emerge.


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