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Medicaid Could Save $2.6 Billion Within a Year if Just 1 Percent of Recipients Quit Smoking

The Median State Would Save an Estimated $25 Million in Medicaid Expenditures, Says UCSF Research

By Elizabeth Fernandez | UCSF.edu | April 12, 2019

Medicaid Could Save $2.6 Billion Within a Year if Just 1 Percent of Recipients Quit Smoking

Reducing smoking, and its associated health effects, among Medicaid recipients in each state by just 1 percent would result in $2.6 billion in total Medicaid savings the following year, according to new research by UC San Francisco.

The median state would save $25 million, ranging from $630.2 million in California (if the smoking rate dropped from 15.5 percent to 14.5 percent) to $2.5 million in South Dakota (if the rate dropped from 41.3 to 40.3 percent), the research found.

The study, by Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, is published April 12, 2019 in JAMA Network Open.  

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“While 14 percent of all adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes, 24.5 percent of adult Medicaid recipients smoke,” said Glantz. “This suggests that an investment in reducing smoking in this population could be associated with a reduction in Medicaid costs in the short run.”

Total Medicaid costs in 2017 were $577 billion. 

“There is no question that reducing smoking is associated with reduced health costs, but it’s commonly assumed that it takes years to see these savings, which has discouraged many states from prioritizing helping smokers quit,” said Glantz.

 “While this is true for some diseases, such as cancer, other health risks such as heart attacks, lung disease and pregnancy complications respond quickly to changes in smoking behavior. So reducing the prevalence of smoking would be an excellent short-term investment in the physical health of smokers and the fiscal health of the Medicaid system,” he said.

 

Read more at UCSF.edu