The vaping industry is exploding, just as tobacco usage among adults and teens has hit an all-time low. Fans of vaporizing eliquids claim that it's a good alternative to smoking and the fun of trying out flavored liquids is appealing to a whole population of smokers who are looking to cut down or enhance their experience. E-cigarettes produce satisfyingly large clouds of vapor in flavors that include cheesecake torte and Belgian waffle. Better yet, the vapor doesn't stick to clothes or hang on breath, and there's no litter from butts. However, even with all of the benefits to vaping over cigarettes, the FDA came down hard on e-cigarettes with strict new regulations in May of last year.
So how does your love of vaping affect your insurance policy?
First, we must understand that not all vaping is as "safe" or "healthy" as some claim. FDA testing from 2009 found cancer-causing chemicals in leading e-cigarette brands, plus formaldehyde in high-voltage e-cigarettes. It's these reports that have insurance companies, and even the government-run Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care) scrapping policies for vape users.
To breakdown what insurance companies consider a smoker, we look to Michael Siegel, MD., a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health. "Someone who is a dual user is still a smoker, but someone who completely switches to e-cigarettes is essentially a quitter," says Siegel. "That's smoking cessation...and I don't see how a person could continue to classify them as smokers." Siegel is a prominent anti-smoking physician expert. He advocates for vaping over smoking, and while most vape users agree with the good doctor, most insurance companies don't.
You see, insurers don't see a reason to differentiate between vaping and smoking. Why? Smokers pay more for insurance coverage and receive less coverage overall. But if vaporizing is so different than smoking-no combustion, for one-then how do they get away with clumping both acts together. That way, they can charge higher premiums to the entire group of smokers and vapers and benefit financially, or they may choose not to insure the individual at all. They also don't think of vaporizing as a smoking cessation aid. They consider everything under the vape umbrella to be a tobacco product.
The details change from policy to policy, but vapers usually pay as much as smokers. According to a 2015 poll, one in 10 Americans now vapes meaning the clash with insurance affects about 10% of the population. That's a huge segment of the population who could lose important insurance coverage just for the fact that they vape. Is this fair? Is there a better way? We think so, and we're inviting you to join the ongoing conversation here. Does your vaping affect your insurance premiums and how?