Smoking cessation benefits in HMOs

Jane G. Zapka, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Philip A. Merriam, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Judith K. Ockene, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Document Type Article


A survey was undertaken in the Spring of 1994 to understand the types of smoking cessation services offered by HMOs to one state's employees. Responses documented that the vast majority of HMOs offered nicotine replacement therapy, as well as behavioral classes and courses, with no difference in availability of programs by HMO model type. Considerable variance was found among plans with respect to the structure of the services, and the conditions for accessing benefits. This variation in part may reflect the lack of empirical evidence concerning which approach is most effective. HMOs have provided leadership within the health services and insurance industry with respect to inclusion of cessation benefits. A challenge for HMOs is to design coordinated systems for their smoking cessation services including development of appropriate monitoring systems. Such monitoring will allow plans to better assess participation and effectiveness, and to make benefit and operational decisions on the basis of performance.