Some older smokers given short reprieve

| July 11, 2013

A computer glitch involving the U.S.’ new health-care law might mean that some smokers next year won’t bear the full cost of tobacco-user penalties that would have made their premiums much higher than those of nonsmokers, according to a blog by Anne Carrns in The New York Times, quoting an Associated Press report.

The Obama administration has notified insurers that a computer system problem will limit penalties that the law says the companies may charge smokers.

Fixing the problem is expected to take at least a year.

“This is a temporary circumstance that in no way impacts our ability to open the marketplaces on Oct. 1, when millions of Americans will be able to purchase quality, affordable insurance for the first time,” said Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, in an emailed statement.

Starting in 2014, the law requires insurance companies to accept all applicants regardless of pre-existing medical problems.

But it also allows them to charge smokers up to 50 percent higher premiums to ward off bad risks.

For an older smoker, the cost of the full penalty could be prohibitive.

Category: Breaking News

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