Federal regulators are weighing in now on whether or not health insurers who participate in the Affordable Care Act can charge a tobacco surcharge on e-cigs. The law currently allows insurers to charge up to 50 percent more in premiums for smokers, but it does not specify the use of electronic cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes are devices that are battery powered that turn liquid nicotine into vapor to “smoke.” The review comes after the Food and Drug Administration proposed the first federal regulations on e-cigs back in April.
Some employers, including Wal-Mart and the United Postal Service, already charge employees who use e-cigarettes more because of the potential of health risks. Critics say, though, that this charge could deter some people from switching from cigarettes to a safer alternative of electronic cigarettes.
"It's a very sticky situation," said Ray Story, chief executive of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. "What we're trying to provide is a product that's less harmful. You can't paint it with the same brush as conventional cigarettes." (Armour, 2014).
"We don't know what the health effects of e-cigarettes are, but we do know nicotine has potential negative effects," said Mark Skillan, a medical director at Munich American Reassurance.” (Armour, 2014).
This debate has led to an unlikely agreement between the tobacco industry and the health advocacy groups because neither one want a surcharge on the e-cigs. Currently Cigna says that since the law didn’t state e-cigarettes specifically in the definition of tobacco use, they are not considering them as tobacco use in it’s family and individual health plans.
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The Wall Street Journal