The report found that Medicaid expenditures attributable to current smokers account for 5.6 percent of total national Medicaid expenditures. "Reducing the number of smokers in the United States could save taxpayers billions of dollars in Medicaid costs," said Justin Trogdon, Ph.D., health economist. "Policy makers looking for ways to reduce health care costs in America would be wise to look at areas of health behaviours that both improve health and reduce health care costs."

According to the research, New York smokers top the list, costing Medicaid $1.5 billion each year. Wyoming had the least Medicaid expenditures due to current smokers, but they still cost the program $15 million each year. The researchers also looked at the cost of Medicaid over the lifetime of 24-year-old smokers because nearly all smokers begin smoking before age 24. "The benefits of preventing smoking initiation accrue over a longer time horizon," Trogdon said. "Life-cycle estimates are important in gauging the long-term impact of youth smoking prevention on state Medicaid programs. These estimates take into account the differences in life expectancy for smokers and nonsmokers as well as payments into the Medicaid system by smokers."

The results showed that, over the course of their lifetime, today's 24-year-old smokers will cost Medicaid almost $1 billion. However, most of those costs are due to female smokers, not males. The researchers found that tax payments by young male smokers make up for most of their extra Medicaid expenditures from smoking, but the expenditures for female smokers cost Medicaid about $1,300 per person.

"Based on these findings, preventing and reducing youth smoking, especially among females, could lower Medicaid costs by billions of dollars," Trogdon said.

MEDICA.de; Source: RTI International