Tricare, which provides civilian health benefits for military personnel, military retirees, and their dependents, announced this week it is now covering prescription drugs for smoking cessation.
Tricare members can now obtain drugs such as varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban), as well as nicotine replacement therapies such as gums, patches, nasal sprays and lozenges, with a doctor’s prescription by mail.
These smoking cessation drugs will also be available in most military clinics and hospitals, the Air Force Times reports.
Before the new policy went into effect, Tricare members who wanted to stop smoking could not get these medications unless they paid for them out of pocket. The health plan did cover smoking cessation counseling and online education tools. Congress passed a law in 2009 requiring the health system to create a smoking cessation program that included drugs. It has taken four years for the law to take effect, the article notes.
“This is an important step in moving from health care to health,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson said in a news release. “When troops smoke, it diminishes their ability to participate in physical activity and, of course, increases the chance of respiratory disease.”
According to the Defense Department, about one-quarter of active duty troops smoke, and about 10 percent use smokeless tobacco products.