Can Medicare Help Me Stop Smoking?

Smoking is an incredibly common, but unhealthy habit that can harm nearly every organ in the body. Not only can it cause lung cancer, increase your chances of breaking bones and Alzheimer’s Disease, but it can also contribute to premature aging and empty your wallet. While the best way to avoid these health risks is to never start smoking to begin with, quitting can help protect you if you are already smoking. And the good news is, you don’t have to try quitting smoking on your own!

Smoking can cause lung cancer, weaken your bones, increase your chances of Alzheimer’s Disease, and contribute to premature aging.

The issue is that cigarettes and other forms of tobacco contain a highly addictive substance (nicotine), which makes it famously difficult to quit once you’ve made smoking a habit. Luckily, there are plenty of programs and groups set up to assist smokers with quitting. Many times, though, these programs aren’t free, which can push some to go it alone. Some succeed at this, many don’t. If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, your plan may be able to help you afford smoking cessation programs!

Smoking Cessation Counseling

Under Medicare Part B, you can receive coverage for counseling for smoking prevention and cessation. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can also receive coverage for this counseling. Primarily, the service is for people who wish to quit smoking or prevent themselves from starting up again after they have quit. This can entail in-person counseling, groups, or even national quitlines. If you decide to give cessation counseling a try, how much will you be paying?

That means no copays, no coinsurances, and nothing applied to the deductible.

Well, you’re in luck. Unlike other mental health services covered by Medicare, smoking cessation treatment is covered entirely by Medicare, under the correct circumstances. That means no copays, no coinsurances, and nothing applied to the deductible. To receive this coverage, however, the treatment must be given by a qualified doctor or Medicare-recognized provider. The provider must also accept Medicare assignment.

Medicare will cover eight counseling sessions in a 12-month period. This should allow for nearly monthly sessions as you work with a medical professional to stop smoking or stay tobacco-free.

What’s Not Covered?

Generally speaking, Medicare Part D won’t cover over-the-counter treatments for tobacco cessation. This includes common options like nicotine patches or gum, which replace the nicotine you would get from cigarettes to limit your cravings. Depending on your plan, you may receive coverage for prescription medication for tobacco cessation, but this depends entirely on your specific formulary.

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Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it can be worth the effort. With all of the ways that smoking can harm your body, quitting just makes sense. In acknowledgement of how difficult (but important) quitting is, Medicare not only assists with programs that help you, it outright makes it free to you, providing you get treatment in the right setting. If you’re debating tobacco cessation (and you should!), you don’t have to go it alone.