Ready to quit smoking? Your health plan may help boost your success

quit smoking Thursday, November 19, 2015

You know you need to-you've tried before-and you don't want to let yourself or your family down. But now you are truly ready to quit smoking. Before you get started, check to see how your health plan can be one more ally on the journey. Smoking cessation treatments-medications, therapies and generic over-the-counter aids-are a preventive benefit included in many health plans. So, when you are ready for a smoke-free life, here's how to get help.

Consider prescription medications

Smoking cigarettes and using tobacco is both a physical addiction (nicotine) and a psychological habit. To help support the physical readjustment, several prescription medications are available to lessen nicotine withdrawal symptoms and help prevent relapse. If your doctor prescribes a NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) nasal spray and inhaler, the nicotine is absorbed orally through the esophagus and stomach rather than through the lungs.

Prescriptions such as NRT, Bupropion (generic for Zyban) and Chantix are covered in full for Premera members with ACA (metallic) plans. For older individual plans or plans you get through your employer, check to see which tobacco cessation treatments are covered by logging on to your premera.com account and select Benefits, or call customer service at the number on your ID card.

Check your pharmacy benefit to see how a drug is covered with your plan (brand name or generic). If your health plan includes prescription drug coverage, present your doctor's prescription and member card to the pharmacist to receive this benefit.

Talk yourself out of smoking

Medication is not the only treatment available when you're trying to quit. Sometimes you need to understand the psychological or underlying reason for your use, such as anxiety or stress. Together with your doctor, you can explore behavioral (or counseling) therapies which may boost success rates higher than medicines alone to help you stay smoke-free.

Smoking impacts not only the lives of the smoker but family members as well who may also benefit from classes or other support activities. Many of these therapies are covered by your health plan, but check specifics of your plan on the type of therapy and number of sessions each year that are covered.

Get help over the counter

If withdrawal symptoms are interfering with your work, for example, people can opt to eliminate nicotine in a more gradual manner. This can be done with the help of smoking cessation aids, such as gum, patches, and lozenges. These generic, over-the-counter cessation aids may be used alone or with other treatments, but talk to your doctor about how best to use these to support your cessation effort.

Premera now covers these options in full, provided they are obtained with a written prescription. A note on getting reimbursed: when using an over-the-counter product, you'll want to submit a prescription claim reimbursement form that includes the drug's National Drug Code (NDC), found on the product package underneath the bar code.

Finally, if you get your health plan through your workplace, check with your benefits manager to see if your employer offers incentive (or reward) programs to encourage you to quit smoking.

How to stop smoking is different for each person. It may take several attempts to quit, but even trying is worth it-to yourself and your family. For tips on how to quit smoking, go online to American Lung Association, or Quit.com.

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