Medicaid coverage for tobacco dependence treatments in Massachusetts and associated decreases in smoking prevalence

PLoS One. 2010 Mar 18;5(3):e9770. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009770.


Background: Approximately 50% of smokers die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. In July 2006, the Massachusetts health care reform law mandated tobacco cessation coverage for the Massachusetts Medicaid population. The new benefit included behavioral counseling and all medications approved for tobacco cessation treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Between July 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008, a total of 70,140 unique Massachusetts Medicaid subscribers used the newly available benefit, which is approximately 37% of all Massachusetts Medicaid smokers. Given the high utilization rate, the objective of this study is to determine if smoking prevalence decreased significantly after the initiation of tobacco cessation coverage.

Methods and findings: Smoking prevalence was evaluated pre- to post-benefit using 1999 through 2008 data from the Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFSS). The crude smoking rate decreased from 38.3% (95% C.I. 33.6%-42.9%) in the pre-benefit period compared to 28.3% (95% C.I.: 24.0%-32.7%) in the post-benefit period, representing a decline of 26 percent. A demographically adjusted smoking rate showed a similar decrease in the post-benefit period. Trend analyses reflected prevalence decreases that accrued over time. Specifically, a joinpoint analysis of smoking prevalence among Massachusetts Medicaid benefit-eligible members (age 18-64) from 1999 through 2008 found a decreasing trend that was coincident with the implementation of the benefit. Finally, a logistic regression that controlled for demographic factors also showed that the trend in smoking decreased significantly from July 1, 2006 to December 31, 2008.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that a tobacco cessation benefit that includes coverage for medications and behavioral treatments, has few barriers to access, and involves broad promotion can significantly reduce smoking prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Medicaid
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation / economics*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation / methods*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation / statistics & numerical data
  • United States