Smokers pay higher premiums for health and life insurance because the habit puts them at higher risks for several serious illnesses. Some of the most problematic diseases caused by smoking include coronary heart disease, cancer, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths in the United States per year. Given that statistics, it’s easy to see why insurance companies charge smokers higher prices.
Many people, however, don’t believe that vaping causes as many health problems as smoking tobacco. From their perspective, they shouldn’t pay higher premiums because they don’t smoke.
Insurance companies don’t share that perspective. Even if you switch from cigarettes to vaping for health reasons, your health or life insurance company will charge you a higher price.
Medical researchers haven’t reached a consensus about whether vaping is healthier than smoking. Several studies identify e-cigarettes as a form of harm reduction. Some even suggest that smokers can use e-cigs to wane themselves off of nicotine. Since companies can control how much nicotine they put into their e-juices, people can gradually reduce the amount of nicotine that they consume. In this sense, vaping can work like other nicotine-replacement products such as nicotine gum.
When used correctly, vaping could help smokers overcome their nicotine addictions.
The American Heart Association recognizes that vaping may have benefits, especially when compared to smoking cigarettes. The organization also points to studies that show vaping leads to a lot of health risks.
Some of the risks associated with vaping include:
Inhaling volatile organic compounds (VOC) that cause cancer.
Consuming diacetyl, which has been
commonly known as “popcorn lung.”
Normalizing nicotine use and smoking.
Plus, it’s impossible to dismiss the harmful effects of consuming nicotine. No matter what form nicotine comes in; case studies show that it contributes to:
Nicotine can also increase risks of:
Reduced blood flow to the heart.
High blood pressure.
While vaping may not hurt you as badly as smoking tobacco, plenty of research shows that e-cigs make it more likely for you to develop diseases that cost a lot to treat and can end your life prematurely.
Given this information, insurance companies make the obvious choice: they charge people who vape higher premiums than they charge people who avoid nicotine and other tobacco products.
Even if research was split evenly between results showing no ill effects and health risks, insurance companies would still side with the studies that describe health risks. They’re conservative businesses that specialize in risk mitigation. Unless a reputable group of scientists releases definitive research showing that vaping doesn’t hurt the health of users, insurance companies will always charge nicotine users higher premiums.
Unless you get your health and life insurance policies through your employer, you will probably have to take a medical exam before buying a policy. The exam helps insurance companies determine how much they should charge you. If you don’t have any health problems, then they can charge relatively low premiums. If you show signs of illness or developing a disease, then the companies will want to charge higher premiums.
During your medical exam, someone will ask you whether you use tobacco products. The insurance company may also perform a test to see if you have nicotine in your saliva, urine, or blood. Nicotine can stay in your system for up to 3 days. Cotinine, which your body metabolizes from nicotine, can remain in your system for over a week.
If you vape, you may feel tempted to say that you don’t use tobacco products. Don’t forget, though, that the nicotine in your e-cigarette comes from tobacco plants. No matter how you try to frame it, you use tobacco.
Perhaps you think that you can trick your insurance company by abstaining from all nicotine products for a couple of weeks. Your body will eliminate all traces of the nicotine and cotinine, so how would the insurance provider know?
You might enjoy lower premiums, but the insurance company could cancel your benefits when it discovers the truth.
The truth may come out when a doctor diagnoses you with a health problem linked to tobacco use. The insurance company could review your medical history to find evidence that you lied on your application. If it can prove that you lied, the provider will likely cancel your policy, leaving you without a way to pay for your medical treatments.
Your life insurance provider may discover your deceit after you die. If a post-mortem examination finds nicotine in your body, then the insurance company could cancel your policy and deny all benefits to your family.
Insurance companies can charge you any price that they want. In some parts of the country, smokers pay about 50% higher rates than non-smokers. Some insurance experts believe that charging such high rates hurt everyone by driving smokers out of the market. Regardless, the companies can do as they please.
Avoiding all tobacco products is the best way to keep insurance premiums affordable. Whether you smoke cigarettes or vape flavored nicotine from e-pens, you will pay a higher rate.