Systems-Level Smoking Cessation Activities by Private Health Plans
Published Date:Dec 15 2010
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 8(1).
The US Public Health Service urges providers to screen patients for smoking and advise smokers to quit. Yet, these practices are not widely implemented in clinical practice. This study provides national estimates of systems-level strategies used by private health insurance plans to influence provider delivery of smoking cessation activities.
Data are from a nationally representative survey of health plans for benefit year 2003, across product types offered by insurers, including health maintenance organizations (HMOs), preferred provider organizations, and point-of-service products, regarding alcohol, tobacco, drug, and mental health services. Executive directors of 368 health plans responded to the administrative module (83% response rate). Medical directors of 347 of those health plans, representing 771 products, completed the clinical module in which health plan respondents were asked about screening for smoking, guideline distribution, and incentives for guideline adherence.
Only 9% of products require, and 12% verify, that primary care providers (PCPs) screen for smoking. HMOs are more likely than other product types to require screening. Only 17% of products distribute smoking cessation guidelines to PCPs, and HMOs are more likely to do this. Feedback to PCPs was most frequently used to encourage guideline adherence; financial incentives were rarely used. Furthermore, health plans that did require screening often conducted other cessation activities.
Few private health plans have adopted techniques to encourage the use of smoking cessation activities by their providers. Increasing health plan involvement is necessary to reduce tobacco use and concomitant disease in the United States.
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