More men and women in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer.  More than 220,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.  The best way to lower your chances of developing lung cancer is to quit smoking and stop using tobacco products.

If you use tobacco, Medicare Part B covers up to 8 face-to-face smoking and tobacco use cessation counseling visits in a 12-month period and a lung cancer screening once per year. You pay nothing for these services if your doctor accepts assignment. Watch Medicare’s video to learn more about how Medicare can help you quit.

Want to learn more about how smoking affects your health or to find tips and resources to help you quit?  Visit Smokefree.gov, or call the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).

Smoking Still Kills, 50 Years Later

You probably already know the many reasons to quit smoking.  We’ve had 50 years of public health education about it since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report first linked smoking to lung cancer. So rather than rehash what you may have heard many times before, we’re going to give it to you straight from the horse’s mouth.

Medicare Made Clear’s Facebook page asked this question: If you are a former smoker, what advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to quit?We appreciate the many responses we received. Here are just some of them.

“I stopped 20 years ago on Valentine’s Day because I could not stop coughing… I would wake up coughing and the only way I could stop was to light up. That’s when my wife said if you don’t stop you will never see our sons graduate high school. I got on the patch and quit. I did see my sons graduate high school and college. That was my incentive and my reward.”

“Willpower; u have 2 WANT to quit! I quit 37 yrs. ago, when I found out I was pregnant.”

“Look at someone who is on oxygen because they cannot breathe on their own and know that every cigarette makes it more likely you will get to this state.”

“Your children are more important than your habit.”

How can you help?

Some people (mostly smokers, perhaps) say there is nothing worse than a former smoker.  Yet who can better understand how difficult and frustrating quitting can be? Maybe something one of these former smokers wrote hit home for you.

More than 20 million Americans have died because of smoking since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report1.  Fifty years later, lung cancer is the leading cause, and the most preventable form, of cancer death in the United States for both men and women2. And still 42 million American adults and about 3 million middle and high school students continue to smoke1.

What’s wrong with this picture?

If you are ready to quit, or you want to help someone else take the first step, help is available.

  • Medicare Part B pays 80% of the Medicare-approved amount for up to 8 face-to-face quit smoking counseling sessions in a 12-month period.
  • SmokeFree.gov offers online and other help that you can choose from based on your individual needs.
  • SmokefreeTXT is a service that sends support and tips via text messages to help you quit.
  • Quit Plan offers information, telephone support, apps and other resources to help you on the road to a smoke-free life.

Does my Medicare Advantage Plan cover smoking cessation?

Medicare Advantage Plans cover all same preventive services as Original Medicare.  This means your Medicare Advantage Plan will charge the same cost-sharing fees (coinsurances, copays or deductibles) for preventive services that Original Medicare does, as long as you see in-network providers.

You can receive counseling at the doctor’s office (including physicians, psychologists, and clinical social workers), clinic or outpatient department of a hospital.  Counseling has to be done by a doctor or an approved Medicare provider.

Over-the-counter treatments for smoking cessation, such as nicotine patches or gum, are not covered, unless your plan offers a quarterly Over-the-Counter (OTC) benefit.  This is because over-the-counter medications are excluded from Medicare Part D coverage by law.  However, prescription drugs for smoking cessation are covered under the Medicare Part D (prescription drug benefit).

checkmark Healthy Note: Medicare will not pay for hypnosis sessions to help you quit smoking.

Resources:

Article Sources:

The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014
Cancer Facts & Figures 2013, American Cancer Society, 2014
blog.medicare.gov/2017/11/01/lung-cancer-awareness-month-3/
blog.medicaremadeclear.com/smoking-still-kills-50-years-later
www.medicareinteractive.org/get-answers/medicare-covered-services/preventive-care-services/medicare-coverage-to-help-you-quit-smoking

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