Nicotine screening is a test used to detect the presence of tobacco in the body. Nicotine screening tests are commonly used by insurance companies to help determine premiums. Nicotine screening may also be used when a person enters a smoking cessation program. The testing determines compliance with the program. The testing is also used occasionally for court cases and before medical procedures.
Nicotine Screening Tests and Insurance Companies
Insurance companies use nicotine screening to check a prospect and to determine how much premium he or she will pay. A part of the Affordable Care Act dictates that insurance companies may charge smokers up to 50% more on their health premiums.
Nicotine Testing Methods
There are three ways to conduct nicotine screening. The most common is a urine test, which checks for the presence of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine that is found in the body after exposure to nicotine. The other common test is the saliva test. The hair test has the ability to detect nicotine up to 90 days since the last exposure to nicotine. Each type of test is used for different reasons.
Nicotine Testing and Insurance: debate continues
People have taken sides on the issue of nicotine testing as it relates to insurance premiums.
One side claims that higher insurance premiums for smokers make sense because smokers tend to have more health complications. The higher fees, they say, will encourage smokers to quit.
The opposing side argues that smoking is an addiction and financial incentives are not enough to prompt smokers to quit.
In the middle of these two positions rests the policy that allows smokers to be exempt from higher insurance premiums if they enroll in a tobacco-cessation program.
The debate continues as people continue to research how smoking and insurance premiums are linked. However, nicotine testing continues to be an important part of the process. Whether individuals complete nicotine testing for a tobacco cessation program, an initial decision with the insurance company, or for medical reasons, we know that nicotine screening results have a significant impact on an array of decisions.
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