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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del), the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent letters to the leaders of four major health insurance companies seeking more information on their efforts to provide tobacco cessation services to eligible Delawareans. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), certain health insurance plans are now required to provide tobacco cessation services at no out-of-pocket expense to enrolled individuals and families. Among other things, Senator Carper asked the companies to explain how they are implementing these new requirements and how they are informing consumers that these services are now available to them.

The letters were sent to Aetna, Cigna-HealthSpring, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Delaware.

“With the passage of the ACA, millions of Americans have received help finding high-quality health insurance.” wrote Senator Carper. “Reforms enacted by the ACA require certain health insurance plans to provide more comprehensive coverage, including preventive health services without any cost-sharing requirements such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. This requirement has helped approximately 76 million Americans with private health insurance gain access to preventive services, including 225,000 residents in my home state of Delaware.”

Carper added, “It is important to understand whether tobacco cessation services are available to individuals enrolled in your health insurance plans. Ensuring the ACA’s requirements are implemented could help Delaware residents lead healthier lives and manage more effectively the chronic diseases that drive up our healthcare costs and reduce our quality of life.”

Just like other preventive services, like regular check-ups and cancer screenings, tobacco cessation services strengthen our health care system by keeping people as healthy as possible and preventing them from becoming ill in the first place. As Governor of Delaware, Senator Carper served as founding vice-chairman of the American Legacy Foundation, now known as the “Truth Initiative,” an anti-tobacco initiative to educate youth on the dangers of smoking, helping smokers quit and keeping non-smokers from turning to tobacco products.

The letter to Aetna can be found in PDF form here.

The letter to Cigna-HealthSpring can be found in PDF form here.

The letter to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware can be found in PDF form here.

The letter to UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Delaware can be found in PDF form here.