Does Medicare Cover Smoking Cessation Counseling and Treatment?

If you’re a smoker on Medicare, you can receive up to eight free smoking cessation counseling sessions each year at no cost to you. Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans also cover certain prescription drugs used to help you stop smoking.

Rachel Christian, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Rachel Christian

    Rachel Christian

    Financial Writer and Certified Educator in Personal Finance

    Rachel Christian is a writer and researcher for RetireGuide. She covers annuities, Medicare, life insurance and other important retirement topics. Rachel is a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education.

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  • Edited By
    Matt Mauney
    Matt Mauney, Senior Editor for RetireGuide

    Matt Mauney

    Financial Editor

    Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist, editor, writer and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience working for nationally recognized newspapers and digital brands. He has contributed content for ChicagoTribune.com, LATimes.com, The Hill and the American Cancer Society, and he was part of the Orlando Sentinel digital staff that was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2017.

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    Aflak Chowdhury
    Aflak Chowdhury

    Aflak Chowdhury

    Medicare Expert

    Aflak Chowdhury is a Medicare expert and independent insurance broker specializing in group health insurance. He has worked for major providers including Humana and Principal Financial Group and today works mainly in the small group market.

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  • Published: March 22, 2021
  • Updated: January 17, 2023
  • 3 min read time
  • This page features 7 Cited Research Articles
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APA Christian, R. (2023, January 17). Does Medicare Cover Smoking Cessation Counseling and Treatment? RetireGuide.com. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/services/preventive/smoking-cessation/

MLA Christian, Rachel. "Does Medicare Cover Smoking Cessation Counseling and Treatment?" RetireGuide.com, 17 Jan 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/services/preventive/smoking-cessation/.

Chicago Christian, Rachel. "Does Medicare Cover Smoking Cessation Counseling and Treatment?" RetireGuide.com. Last modified January 17, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/services/preventive/smoking-cessation/.

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Medicare’s Coverage of Smoking Cessation Counseling

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

According to the American Lung Association, more than 480,000 Americans die from tobacco use every year.

Older adults who quit smoking can reduce their risk of death from various conditions, including coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive lung disease and lung cancer.

Did You Know?
Tobacco use costs the United States more than $300 billion a year, including nearly $170 billion in direct medical care and more than $156 billion in lost productivity.

Smoking cessation counseling has been available as a Medicare-covered service since 2006.

Medicare will cover up to two smoking cessation attempts each year.

Each attempt includes a maximum of four counseling sessions, or a total of up to eight sessions in a 12-month period.

During counseling sessions, a doctor or therapist will provide you with personalized advice on how to quit.

Medicare smoking cessation counseling can help you:
  • Develop a plan to quit smoking.
  • Identify situations and environments that trigger your urge to smoke.
  • Find smoking alternatives and distractions, such as brushing your teeth or taking a walk.
  • Eliminate smoking products from your home and car, including lighters, matches and ash trays.
  • Learn about the health benefits of smoking cessation.
  • Practice coping mechanisms for emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms.

You and your health care provider can choose between intermediate or intensive cessation sessions for each attempt.

Intermediate sessions last more than three minutes but less than 10 minutes, while intensive sessions last more than 10 minutes.

You can receive counseling in various settings, including over the phone and in group sessions.

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Medicare Costs for Smoking Cessation Counseling

If you’re a Medicare beneficiary who uses tobacco, you qualify for free cessation counseling. You don’t need to have any signs or symptoms of tobacco-related disease to qualify.

Medicare covers smoking cessation counseling if:
  • You use tobacco.
  • You are competent and alert while counseling is provided.
  • Your counseling is provided by a qualified physician or other Medicare-recognized practitioner.

There are no coinsurance payments or deductibles for smoking cessation counseling because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act waives deductibles and coinsurance for certain preventive services.

Tobacco cessation counseling is covered by Medicare in outpatient and hospital settings.

However, Medicare will not cover tobacco cessation services in a hospital if the principal diagnosis is tobacco use disorder and tobacco cessation is the primary reason for your hospital stay.

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Does Medicare Cover Chantix and Other Prescriptions?

In addition to counseling, your doctor may prescribe a medication to help you stop smoking — such as varenicline, also known by the brand name Chantix.

Since 2006, Medicare Part D drug plans have included certain smoking cessation drugs.

Smoking Cessation Drugs Covered by Medicare Part D
  • Nicotine replacement therapy inhalers
  • Nicotine replacement therapy nasal spray
  • Bupropion (Zyban)
  • Varenicline (Chantix)

Common over-the-counter medications, such as nicotine gum and patches, are not covered by Medicare.

However, certain Medicare Advantage plans may include some coverage or discounts on these products.

Cost

Costs for nicotine replacement therapy drugs can vary from plan to plan, but these prescriptions are often free or affordable for Medicare beneficiaries.

According to GoodRx, the average Medicare user pays $1 to $9 for a 30-day supply of Chantix, while the average cost for Zyban is $1.

Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage offer the same benefits as stand-alone Part D plans.

Last Modified: January 17, 2023

7 Cited Research Articles

  1. American Lung Association. (2022, August 25). Tobacco Facts. Retrieved from https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/smoking-facts
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 10). Coverage for Tobacco Use Cessation Treatments. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/cessation/coverage/index.htm
  3. United Healthcare. (2020, June 10). Counseling to Prevent Tobacco Use (NCD 210.4.1). Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20220118235400/https://www.uhcprovider.com/content/dam/provider/docs/public/policies/medadv-guidelines/c/counseling-prevent-tobacco-use.pdf
  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2005, March 22). Decision Memo for Smoking & Tobacco Use Cessation Counseling (CAG-00241N). Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/view/ncacal-decision-memo.aspx?proposed=N&NCAId=130
  5. GoodRx. (n.d.). Chantix Medicare Coverage. Retrieved from https://www.goodrx.com/chantix/medicare-coverage
  6. GoodRx. (n.d.). Zyban Medicare Coverage. Retrieved from ttps://www.goodrx.com/zyban/medicare-coverage
  7. Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Counseling to prevent tobacco use & tobacco-caused disease. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/counseling-to-prevent-tobacco-use-tobacco-caused-disease