Health plan, state seek to aid smokers
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services and CHA Health have formed a partnership to persuade residents of the state with the nation's highest percentage of adult smokers to quit.
The new benefit will offer CHA Health members in 91 of the 120 Kentucky counties nicotine replacement patches on a one-time basis, if they enroll in a health-department approved smoking cessation program.
The Lexington-based health maintenance organization has about 130,000 members statewide, including 1,541 enrollees from Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.
Under the agreement with CHA Health, coverage will be limited to 12 weeks, and members must make a co-payment of $25 for each 30 days worth of nicotine patches.
â€œWe've never offered smoking cessation supplements before, because if they're used by themselves,â€ they're not very successful, said Dr. Philip Hanus, a director of pharmacy at CHA Health.
â€œThe people relapse or they drop out of therapy,â€ he said. â€œBut when you combine them with a behavioral management program, we feel that they can be used to their best advantage.â€
Nine to 10 percent of smokers quit after one year with nicotine replacement therapy only, said Stephanie Vogel, health education supervisor for the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department. However, when a smoker combines nicotine replacement therapy with a smoking cessation program, 40 percent of smokers quit for good after one year.
â€œNearly half of Kentucky's smokers have tried to quit, so we are pleased to see this very positive beginning and encourage other health insurers and employers to join CHA Health,â€ said Dr. Rice C. Leach, commissioner of the Department of Public Health for Kentucky.
Dr. Leach said further incentives are needed because of the high percentage of smokers in Kentucky. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Kentucky leads the United States in the percentage of adults who smoke â€” 30.5 percent.
In Northern Kentucky, the Kentucky Cancer Program, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, the Northern Kentucky health department and the GlaxoSmithKline group sponsor the free, 13-week Cooper Clayton smoking cessation program.
Besides the CHA Health incentive, the sponsors of Northern Kentucky's smoking cessation program offer a few of their own.
With the help of $8,000 in tobacco settlement money, Northern Kentucky's Cooper Clayton program contracts with Kroger's Silverlake pharmacy in Erlanger to provide the initial supply of nicotine replacement patches or gum, Ms. Vogel said.
â€œWe give a voucher to participants so that they can get a two-week supply of the patch or gum,â€ Ms. Vogel said. â€œUsually that equals the amount of money they would have spent on cigarettes during that same time. That lets them start saving their money to buy more (nicotine replacement) patches and gum.â€
A pharmaceutical representative from GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health Care also provides Northern Kentucky's Cooper Clayton smoking cessation classes with $5 discount coupons for nicotine replacement patches or gum.