If you are a Louisiana smoker looking to quit you’ll soon be able to take advantage of a six-month smoking cessation treatment provided by health insurers under a new law. ABC 31 News’ Joel Massey has more from the group who helped make this new law possible.
“Being a cancer survivor, while you have cancer I think most people make a lot of promises to themselves that if I can just beat this disease I’m going to pay it forward and I’m going to do everything I can to help people who are going through something similar.”
Chad Landry survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 20 and as a result dedicated the rest of his life to helping people fight cancer. He is the executive director of the Cancer Advocacy Group of Louisiana and was instrumental in helping to pass a new law requiring health insurers to cover comprehensive smoking cessation treatment.
“We’re the epicenter where most of the cancer is taking lives right here in Louisiana so we want to make a big effort at the legislative level to pass laws that benefit cancer patients and offer the best treatments, the best access to care because there is a lot of healthcare disparities across our state.”
Dr. Marc Matrana is co-director for the Cancer Advocacy Group and he says smoking causes lots of problems in addition to lung cancer.
“Head and neck cancers, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, the list goes on and on as well as many other serious and fatal health problems.”
With the new law in place smokers will be able to take advantage of comprehensive cessation programs provided by private insurance or Medicaid without deductibles, co-payments or any other out of pocket costs.
Matrana said, “We know the most effective smoking cessation programs are really the comprehensive ones, the ones that include medication, the ones that include counselling, the ones that include follow ups and maybe group sessions with patients.”
Matrana says smoking cessation programs are relatively inexpensive compared to treating the effects of smoking.
“The diseases caused by smoking particularly advanced and terminal cancer are extremely costly to the state on multiple levels. They are costly because the treatments for these cancers are costly. They are also costly because they take otherwise healthy people who would be productive and working and generating tax dollars and contributing to our economy and they take them out of the workforce.”
To take advantage of cessation programs all the insured person needs is a recommendation from their doctor.
According to the American Lung Association Louisiana has the 11th highest percentage among U-S states of adults who smoke.