A break for smokers? Glitch may limit penalties

Posted at 8:30 AM, Jul 09, 2013
and last updated 2014-06-18 11:52:08-04

WASHINGTON (AP) — They have to huddle outside office buildings and they can't get their nicotine fix by lighting up on airplanes. But now smokers may catch a break from a glitch in President Barack Obama's health care law.

The administration has quietly notified insurers that a computer system problem will limit penalties as high as 50 percent that the law says the companies may charge smokers.

A fix will take at least a year to put in place.

Experts say older smokers are more likely to benefit from the glitch. But depending on how insurers respond, it's also possible that younger smokers could wind up facing higher penalties than they otherwise would have.

Some see a pattern of delays emerging as the health care overhaul moves closer to its Oct. 1 launch.