UCSF study: Quitting smoking could save California’s MediCal program $2.6 billion per year

California MediCal smoking
Researcher say the states would save a median of $25 million each with a 1 percent reduction in smoking. (underworld/Shutterstock photo)

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) — Researchers say they think cutting smoking in each state by 1 percent in a year would lower the cost to taxpayer-supported Medicaid by $2.6 billion the following year, according to findings published Friday in JAMA Network Open.

“While 14 percent of all adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes, 24.5 percent of adult Medicaid recipients smoke,” said Stanton Glantz, who runs the tobacco research center at University of a California at San Francisco and study author, in a news release. “This suggests that an investment in reducing smoking in this population could be associated with a reduction in Medicaid costs in the short run.”

A 1 percent drop would have median savings of $25 million for state each year, with California leading at more than $630 million.

The researchers looked at state-by-state rates of Medicaid recipients who also smoked. They figured that reducing smoking in that group by 1 percent would lower per-capita health care spending by 0.118 percent.

The also said that even if the Medicaid recipients cut down on smoking, that still would bring savings in healthcare costs.

In 2017 alone, the United States experienced $577 billion in total Medicaid costs, the study said.

“Because some health risks linked with smoking, such as cancer, can take years to fully manifest, these savings would be likely to grow with each passing year,” Glantz said.

Reporting by Tauren Dyson

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