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Utilizing Healthcare Services

Utilizing Healthcare Services

There are many healthcare services that may be available to help you in the smoking cessation process.

Insurance Coverage

One of the first steps you should take when considering various healthcare services to help you quit smoking is to talk with your insurance company. Depending on your plan, your insurance company may cover some or all types of treatments. Knowing your options will only benefit you if you decide to talk over treatment options with your doctor.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health provides this list of questions to ask your insurance company:

  • Are medications covered in my plan? If so:
    • Are prescription medications covered?
    • Are over-the-counter medications covered?
    • Is there a limit to the amount of medication that is covered?
    • What is the co-pay?
  • Is counseling (support) to quit smoking covered in my plan? If so,
    • Is one-on-one counseling covered?
    • Is group counseling covered?
    • Are local quit-smoking services available?
    • Is there a limit to the amount of counseling that is covered?
    • Is there a co-pay or reimbursement for services?
  • Are other types of support covered, such as acupuncture?

Screenings

Because smoking is a catalyst for many types of illness, regular health screenings are important in determining the status of your health. You may have a risk factor or illness without knowing it, and routine recommended health screenings can provide the early detection that can save your life. You should discuss your health screening schedule with your doctor, but also consider utilizing free screenings when possible.

The AARP and Walgreens have teamed up to provide a “Wellness Tour,” which visits six states and Puerto Rico, offering free screenings to all adults. To find out if this tour is coming to your area, visit http://waytowelltour.com/. Many universities and colleges also offer screening days that are open to the public. There may also be health fairs hosted by a local healthcare provider, pharmacies, or other groups.

Talking to your Doctor

After you have consulted your insurance company and know what treatment options, if any, are covered, you should talk to your doctor. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has a list of questions to ask your healthcare provider to help get the best personalized care for you. 

Individual Counseling and Support Groups

Quitting smoking is difficult, but having support can make it easier. According to the United States Public Health Association guidelines, your chances of quitting increase every time you engage in a counseling session that involves interpersonal contact. One-on-one counseling sessions are ideal, but can be expensive. If your insurance will not cover such a session and you cannot afford it, try to find a support group instead. Some support groups charge small fees to join the program, but many are free. Here are some ideas of places to look for support groups:

Be wary of any counseling that promises instant results with no effort, charges expensive fees to participate, or will not provide references of people who have been through the program. (Source: Guide to Quitting Smoking)

When considering a program or class, consider asking the following questions:

  • Is the program convenient? Ask about where it's conducted, how long sessions last, and what time of the day they're held. If it's inconvenient for you, you might make excuses not to go.
  • Is the staff well-trained and professional? Ask who'll be leading the group. If the program involves hypnosis, the practitioner should have a license or be certified in psychiatry, psychology, or social work.
  • Does the program provide what you need? Find out whether the group emphasizes lectures or group discussions.
  • What is the success rate? A good program follows up on participants for at least three months. Don't be surprised if the success rate sounds low. In many programs, only one out of four or five people stays off cigarettes afterwards for at least a year.
  • How much will it cost? Price isn't necessarily the best gauge of how good a program is. Many of the most successful programs are free to participants.