Smoking Costs Arkansas Medicaid $795 Million Annually

January 22, 2019



John Lyon
Strategic Communications Manager

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ACHI Infographic Published Today Depicts Spending on Smoking-Attributable Conditions


LITTLE ROCK ― Smoking costs Arkansas’s Medicaid program over $795 million annually, an infographic published today by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) illustrates. See the infographic here: Smoking-Attributable Costs to Medicaid

To estimate the cost of smoking to Medicaid, ACHI analyzed data from the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Database to determine the amounts of claims paid by Medicaid for certain conditions among adults ages 30–65 in fiscal year 2015. ACHI then estimated the portions of those amounts attributable to smoking based on each condition’s percentage of risk associated with smoking, using methods developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The Tax Reform and Relief Task Force of the Arkansas General Assembly in 2018 heard a report that estimated smoking-related Medicaid costs at $293 million annually. This estimate was not based upon the healthcare experience of Arkansans and did not account for expanded coverage through Arkansas Works.

This updated estimate, based on actual healthcare utilization of Arkansans affected by tobacco, suggests more than a threefold excess in expenditures compared to taxes collected on tobacco.

This estimate does not account for smoking-attributable costs in younger individuals, including those associated with pregnancy-related conditions, pre-term delivery, neonatal care, or childhood conditions triggered by smoking.

The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that serves as a catalyst for improving the health of Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development.

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