“Using tobacco demands your finances, your health and your relationships,” said Preston Renshaw, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Avera Health Plans. “It can even claim your life.”
Smoking affects every part of the human body. On the outside, long-time smokers often deal with decaying and stained teeth, yellowed fingernails and premature wrinkles. You can also lump hearing and vision loss into this category.
So just imagine what’s happening on the inside. In addition to lung cancer, smoking is the leading cause of osteoporosis and COPD. Blood vessels can become thick and restrictive, causing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, blood clots and stroke. People with asthma may experience more violent episodes.
Smoking can rob you financially, too. Just smoking one $7 pack a day costs about $2,500 a year.
“Many employers who offer health insurance will count smoking against you because of the obvious health risks and disease burden,” Renshaw said. “In other words, smokers typically pay more in health insurance premiums.”
It all adds up to incentive to quit.
Some health insurance agencies, such as Avera Health Plans, have tools, resources and coverage to help you do just that.
“You now have some options for prescription medications that you didn’t have before,” Renshaw said. “These medications help tame the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, including headaches, irritability, nausea and anxiety.”
A physician may also recommend over-the-counter options, such as patches, gum or lozenges. These supplemental cessation products may even be covered by your flex account; check with your health insurance.
Support groups and personal counseling sessions help quitters remain focused on their goals and learn new tricks to stay off tobacco. According to Debbie Lancto, Health and Wellness Champion at Avera Health Plans, people are more likely to be successful if they have a cessation counselor to hold them accountable.
Health plan members pay nothing for Avera Health Plans’ eight-week tobacco cessation program.
“Quitting can save you a lot — in your health and your pocketbook,” Renshaw said.
If members would like to learn more about the program, please call the Avera Health Plans Service Center at 605-322-4545 or toll-free at 1-888-322-2115, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CT Monday-Friday.
The Road to Smoke Free
Provided by Debbie Lancto, Health and Wellness Champion at Avera Health Plans
Gather a support system. Rally family and friends.
Get professional support. Join a support group. Find a cessation counselor.
Develop a plan. Identify the tools and behaviors that will help you be successful.
Cleanse your environment. Remove ashtrays, lighters, cigarettes and odors from your home and car.
Visit a doctor. Prescription medication may lessen withdrawals.
Try over-the-counter products. Patches, gum or lozenges may be covered by your flex account.
Replace triggers with healthy activities. Take a walk, knead a stress ball or try a new hobby.
Forgive yourself. Get back on track after a slip-up.
Keep moving forward. Discipline and determination — you can do this!