Opioid addiction taking its toll on Ohio health insurers - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Opioid addiction taking its toll on Ohio health insurers

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Opioid addiction is a multi-billion dollar affair in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013 the opioid epidemic cost the United States more than $78.5 billion dollars. 

Since then the U.S. Surgeon General's Office has released information that suggests that between healthcare costs, criminal justice costs, and lost worker productivity the U.S. spends approximately $442 billion dollars every year. 

The Ohio Department of Medicaid reports that in 2016, the State of Ohio spent more than $939 million on the opioid crisis and that Medicaid drug addiction and behavioral health services accounted for 70 percent of that cost

For family members across the Valley, the cost is much more personal- but there's no doubt to many that workplaces, businesses, and even health insurers are feeling the pressure. 

A report published by FAIR Health found that private insurance claims in Ohio involving opioid dependence-related diagnoses increased 770 percent from 2007 to 2014.  

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says that is why he is creating a new task force about insurance companies' roles in the epidemic. 

"The financial burden of the opioid epidemic has costs which are paid by health insurance subscribers and taxpayers alike," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "Because fighting this problem requires a multifaceted approach, insurers are important partners in addressing the opioid epidemic."

The task force will consist of representatives from the following health insurers:

  • Aetna
  • Anthem
  • Buckeye Health Plan
  • CareSource
  • Medical Mutual
  • Molina
  • Paramount
  • United Healthcare

DeWine says that the insurers will discuss topics like the medical necessity of pre-authorizations for buprenorphine and other medications utilized in medication-assisted treatment, guidelines that reduce the number of opioid prescriptions while still ensuring that patients receive safe and effective pain management, and creating pharmacy or provider "lock-in" programs for members at high risk for opioid abuse, as well as others. 

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