Households to Pay $10,500 in "Poll Taxes"
Huge and Unnecessary Expense Could Be Slashed With Simple Approved Measure
They acknowledge that it will be difficult to change because of powerful interests lobbying against any changes which might reduce their incomes.
But Americans also pay an enormous additional tax of about $2500 for each household, which, unlike the larger one, can easily be slashed simply by requiring smokers to pay more for their health insurance, just as they have long been required to do for life insurance, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
According to the American Lung Association, smoking costs the U.S. economy more than $332 billion in direct health care costs and lost productivity every year; a huge expense unnecessarily imposed on all of us by only about 15% of the population.
Moreover, since smokers are concentrated in the lowest socioeconomic segment, they are those most likely to receive taxpayer financial support, and the least likely to contribute to the country's economic welfare.
These huge costs are now borne by the great majority of taxpayers who are not smokers (in the form of additional medical costs under Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans and Indian benefits, etc), nonsmokers with health insurance (in the form of bloated premiums and increased deductibles)
Imposing personal responsibility on smokers by requiring them to pay for the added costs their smoking imposes would help many to do what most already want to do - quit.
This would slash these unnecessary costs, and help them and their families. Those who don't quit would then pay the costs they now impose on others.
This concept, sometimes known as "differential health insurance premiums," has been endorsed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners [NAIC], and has already been put into practice by some companies. Thanks to two legal actions by Banzhaf, the federal government has approved charging smokers more for health insurance, and a 50% smoker surcharge is part of Obamacare.
So, while reforming our entire medical care and insurance system is very difficult and involves many powerful players, the U.S. could slash this huge smoker tax on each household easily, since it involves, and is caused and imposed on us by, only a tiny segment of the population with only limited political clout.