Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont announces expansion of benefits for nicotine replacement Products
BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF VERMONT ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF BENEFITS FOR NICOTINE REPLACEMENT PRODUCTSState’s Largest Insurer Leads New Tobacco Cessation EffortBerlin, Vt. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) announced today that it will extend access to low or no cost nicotine replacement products to all its members in an expanded effort to encourage smokers to quit.”Tobacco-related medical conditions contribute greatly to the high cost of health care, not to mention the personal cost to patients suffering from a preventable illness,” explained BCBSVT Corporate Medical Director Stephen Perkins, M.D. “Extending this program will help more of our members who want to quit smoking.”BCBSVT has covered nicotine replacement products for its members enrolled in fully-insured benefit plans since 2001 as part of a Vermont Department of Health tobacco cessation program called Quit Bucks”. Company officials said the decision to extend nicotine replacement benefits to all its members at no additional cost to the member or the employer should help lower the rate of smoking and mark a significant step forward in its attempts to reduce health care costs.BCBSVT is the first health insurer participating in the program to extend this coverage to all its members.The Quit Bucks program seeks to remove the high-cost of nicotine replacement therapies as an obstacle for Vermonters who want to quit smoking. The retail cost of nicotine replacement patches, gum or lozenges can be a barrier to participation. The insurance payment program enables eligible Vermonters who agree to use tobacco cessation counseling services to purchase nicotine-replacement patches, gum or lozenges for a $20 co-payment, much less than the retail value. For a limited time, a supplemental coupon is available to defray the co-pay, making the product cost free.More than 15,000 Vermonters have taken advantage of the statewide tobacco cessation programs and the prevalence of smoking among adults declined from 22.4 percent to 19.8 percent. The per capita cigarette consumption has dropped by 30 percent.”We all know how hard it is to quit smoking,” said Catherine Suiter, statewide tobacco cessation coordinator, “but you can double your chances of success by using nicotine replacement and by getting some coaching. BCBSVT has taken the lead in Vermont by providing patches, gum or lozenges to every member through the Quit Bucks program. We are very pleased to team up with BCBSVT to help Vermonters stop using tobacco.”For more information contact your local hospital for the Ready, Set&STOP program or call the Vermont Quit Line 877-YES-QUIT.Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s oldest and largest private health insurer, providing health benefits coverage for about 180,000 Vermonters. It employs over 350 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and branch office in Williston, and offers group and individual health plans. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available on the Internet at www.bcbsvt.com(link is external). Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.