Is smoking bad for your health? Yes, and most people know that it is. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to quit. For many people who smoke, it can seem impossible to fight the addiction alone. This is mainly due to nicotine, one of the substances found in tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars.
When smokers consume products that contain nicotine, it alters the balance of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain. By disrupting the balance of these two vital chemicals, a smoker’s mood and concentration are enhanced, producing feelings of relaxation and reduced anxiety. The problem is, the more you smoke the more tolerance you build up. Eventually, you need to take in more and more nicotine to get the same results, putting your health at an even higher risk.
Getting help to stop smoking
Today in the United States, smoking is the leading cause of death and is responsible for more than 480,000 people dying every year. If you smoke for many years, you run the risk of life-threatening health complications like cardiovascular disease, COPD, emphysema, lung cancer, other forms of cancer, arthritis, cataracts, and other serious illnesses.
Whether you’re an occasional smoker, or you’ve been smoking heavily for years, it’s best for your health to quit. These days, it isn’t difficult to find behavior counseling groups or commercial products that can make quitting smoking easier.
In fact, you can find nicotine replacement products like gum, inhalers, lozenges, and patches in most pharmacies around the country. They are sold over the counter, so you don’t need a prescription from your doctor. But do you have coverage through your Medicare insurance?
Does Medicare Advantage cover nicotine patches?
Even if you have coverage with Original Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance), and a stand-alone prescription drug (Part D) plan, your coverage doesn’t include health aids like nicotine replacement products. This is because they are available over the counter, and you don’t need a prescription from your physician to purchase them.
However, if you have a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, your plan may cover these types of products. Many Medicare Advantage plan providers offer monthly over-the-counter allowance cards to people who enroll in their plans. The amount can range from $10 to $130, or more, depending on the type of plan you have.
With this over-the-counter allowance, you can make certain purchases at specified pharmacies. Some of the most common items you can get with your card include:
- Nicotine replacement products like gum and patches
- Cold and cough remedies
- Adult incontinence care items like diapers and disposable underwear
- First aid supplies
- Oral care products
- Vitamins and minerals
- Pain relief products
If your MA plan includes an over-the-counter allowance, you should have access to a catalog of items you can purchase with your allowance. Your plan provider may have this information available online. If you aren’t sure what products are allowed, you should call your provider and get details about your coverage.
How much do nicotine patches cost without Medicare insurance coverage?
For nicotine replacement patches, prices vary according to the brand of product, the number of patches in the box, and where you purchase them.
For example, a box of 14 (two-week supply) extended-release, brand-name nicotine patches costs between $41.99 and $71.16. However, for a store-brand box of 25 nicotine patches, you might pay around $19.90. So, if you don’t have a monthly over-the-counter allowance card, you should do some comparison shopping to find the best deal.