I applaud your reminder to Pittsburghers about the importance of smoking cessation and the role insurers play in the process ("Healthy Priority: Medical Plans Need to Cover Smoking Cessation," June 23 editorial; "Smokers Trying to Quit Have a Hard Time Getting Help," June 19 Business). However, we would like to clarify how Highmark Inc. is addressing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for helping smokers quit.
There is no question that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Highmark has made it a priority to offer a variety of smoking cessation resources for many years. Recognizing the diverse needs of our members, we offer "quit" resources in the community, at the work site, on the Web and on the phone, all at no charge to our members. Our members may choose the tools they need to quit smoking including self-help resources, telephonic counseling and unlimited assistance from a health coach. We offer smoking cessation to pregnant mothers through our Baby Blue Prints program.
We also offer coverage for medications with no or minimal copays, depending on the plan chosen by the employer. In fact, over 90 percent of our employer groups include smoking cessation as a part of their pharmacy benefits. In addition, we offer discounted FDA-approved over-the-counter medications when members enroll in one of our programs. As a result, Highmark meets or exceeds CDC recommendations for counseling sessions and medication coverage.
I didn't want to miss this opportunity to let our members and the community know about the robust smoking cessation resources available to them through Highmark.
DONALD FISCHER, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer