Will Insurance Deny my Hip Replacement Surgery if I’m a Smoker? (A Web Chat Question)

Orthopaedic & Spine Center

Moderated by Boyd W. Haynes III, MD

That’s a fantastic question.  Currently, insurance companies do not take smoking status into consideration when choosing to approve or deny joint replacement surgeries.  However, we have a lot of scientific research that proves that smoking is quite detrimental to bone growth, blood circulation, bone and soft tissue healing – all of which are extremely important when a patient has a joint replacement of any kind – be it hip, knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow or thumb.  Healing and recovery from a joint replacement takes longer if you smoke. Smoking also specifically increases the musculoskeletal pain of a person without having surgery, so imagine the discomfort you may experience if you smoke before and after a major surgery like joint replacement.

Regarding insurance coverage, just because smoking is not a reason for surgery denial at this time, doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. Because insurers know the information I’ve shared with you above, they may one day soon decide that quitting smoking is a prerequisite for surgery approval.  In doing so, they will lower their overall risk and costs.

I know you’ve heard it before.  Just quit smoking anyway.