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Smokers Wouldn't Pay More Under California Bills to Change Health Premium Rules

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, August 17, 2012

Under the measures, Californians buying their own health coverage couldn't be denied because of a prior condition, and insurers could only set their premiums based on age, geography and family size.


Smokers couldn't be charged more than non-smokers, even though the federal health law allows for it.  


Assemblyman Bill Monning authored one of the bills. He says charging smokers more could price them out of health coverage.


MONNING"Those higher risk patients will still need treatment, they'll still potentially access emergency rooms, we'll all shoulder the cost of that at a much higher cost. So our goal is to try to maximize the number of people we get into the system."


But Patrick Johnston of the California Association of Health Plans says a higher premium could motivate a smoker to quit.


JOHNSTON:  "The notion that everyone who is taking care of their health and not smoking, should subsidize the Californians who smoke and injure their own health seems to me inconsistent with the law."


The identical bills will get floor votes this month.

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