Smoking leads to high medical costs and limited financial resources

Jan 29, 2015 | Healthcare Industry News

We know that cigarette smoking is expensive, but the financial toll it takes on smokers extends far beyond the cost of buying cigarettes. A new study by WalletHub aimed to calculate the total financial cost of smoking over an extended period, per smoker, taking into account medical costs, income loss and the price of cigarettes. 

"In the U.S., the economic and societal costs of smoking-related issues total more than $301 billion a year, and that figure continues to rise," writes Richie Bernardo in the report. "Broken down, the total includes $116.4 billion in direct health care costs, $67.5 billion in workplace productivity losses and $117.1 billion in early deaths related to smoking."

The study, which broke down several metrics of financial risk, found that the average smoker loses more than $1 million to the habit over a lifetime, irrespective of their state. In South Carolina, the average total cost is $1,097,690, all things considered, and it ranks at the bottom of the list. The most expensive state for smokers over a lifetime is Alaska, where the activity costs the average smoker $2,032,916. 

Naturally, the trend puts considerable strain on personal finances, but also burdens health care providers with huge bills. Hundreds of thousands of dollars from those lifetime totals are funneled into care for emphysema, lung cancer, heart disease and other medical conditions caused by smoking. Due to the high cost of maintaining the habit, smokers may have fewer available resources to pay medical bills on time and in full. 

Because of the high rate of smoking in the United States, healthcare management administrators are inundated with claims related to cigarettes, with patients drowning in a cycle of debt. By outsourcing receivables management, organizations can better prioritize their collection methods.