Study: Health Spending Related To Opioid Treatment Rose More Than 1,300 Percent
Study: Health Spending Related To Opioid Treatment Rose More Than 1,300 Percent

Study: Health Spending Related To Opioid Treatment Rose More Than 1,300 Percent

The nation’s ongoing opioid problem comes with staggering physical and emotional costs to patients and families. But the dollar cost to the health system has been harder to peg. Now a new report shows a more than 1,300 percent rise in spending by health insurers in a four-year period on patients with a diagnosis of opioid dependence or abuse.

September 29, 2016

 

From 2011 to 2015, insurers’ payments to hospitals, laboratories, treatment centers and other medical providers for these patients grew from $32 million to $446 million — a 1,375 percent increase.

While that’s a small portion of the overall spending on medical care in the United States, the rapid rise is cause for concern, says Robin Gelburd, president of Fair Health, a nonprofit databank that provides cost information to the health industry and consumers.

“That really shows the stress on the health system and the impact on the individuals,” said Gelburd.

The Fair Health study found a sharp difference in how much insurers spend on individual patients with such a diagnosis.

On average, insurers spend $3,435 a year on an individual patient, but for those with an opioid dependence or abuse diagnosis, that amount jumps to $19,333. Those numbers reflect what insurers actually paid. The report also includes data on what providers charged, amounts that are lowered by their contracts with insurers.

The study, set to be released Tuesday, builds on one Fair Health released in early August that found a 3,000 percent increase in the volume of insurance claims related to opioid dependence diagnoses between 2007 and 2014.

The latest study — part of a series — offers amounts associated with claims billed by providers and paid by insurers for the types of medical services used.

Both studies use de-identified claims data from insurers representing more than 150 million insured Americans who either have insurance through work or buy coverage on their own.

There have been other efforts by several researchers to quantify the cost of the opioid problem on the overall economy, estimated in the tens of billions of dollars.

The new report adds to the available data “that it’s not just the human cost associated with the opioid crisis that is enormous, but also that the economic costs are staggering,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, senior scientist at Brandeis University. He did not work on the study.

The surge in spending on patients with opioid diagnoses is likely a combination of factors, the report notes. As media attention focuses on drug dependency, more people may be seeking treatment. At the same time, prescription and illegal use of narcotics may also be increasing.

The study found that emergency room visits and laboratory tests accounted for much of the spending. Based on claims volume, the fastest-growing set of services in terms of utilization were for alcohol or drug therapy. Lab tests, including checks for barbiturate or opioid use, were not far behind.

Researchers did not use 2015 data for lab test costs, noting that a change in billing codes was made that increased the number of categories — and, in some cases, appear to generate higher payments by insurers. It is too early to estimate the long-term effects of the change, Gelburd said.

The report gives some examples of the changes, however. For example, one billing code for a test on opiate use commonly brought in a $31 payment from insurers prior to the change. The two billing codes that replaced it now are commonly paid at $78 and $156.

The new billing codes may reflect new technology in testing, said Gelburd. She said some observers speculate that the rapid increase in lab spending might reflect that, with more patients in therapy, the tests are being used to ensure they are taking their proper medications and not abusing narcotics.

But the spending might also reflect a growing use of very expensive urine and blood tests when less expensive ones would be sufficient, said Kolodny.

“I worry about profiteering,” said Kolodny. “We do need tests, but not the expensive ones. A lot of clinics are making extra money off these lab tests.”

The overall increase in spending across all types of medical services “is a societal issue,” said Gelburd, who says policymakers need to ensure that changes are made to address the problem.

“Are medical school curricula adjusting to recognize the growing need for these services? Are insurers increasing the number of providers in their networks to ensure sufficient access? Are consumers being educated? It’s an issue that has to be dealt with in all quadrants.”

About Author

34240 Responses Found

  • Comment Link
    http://www.paradis-haver.dk/laboutin.asp Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:59

    Our son gave me this for moms day. He understands im not regarding price although exactly what comes from on heart. I can't trust this has the favorite shade furthermore actually suits my personal wrist. I never ever could see bracelets to suit headphonesmy personal little wrist. Very pleased to get recieved this being a gifts.

  • Comment Link
    Cartier Love Bracelet Replica Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:59

    Ideal headphonesget, nicely listed to exactly what is actually presented. Stunning present package and also poem in addition enclosed. Great to mother's day!

  • Comment Link
    Lolita Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:57

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all
    that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

  • Comment Link
    http://www.gullangrafstrom.se/online.asp Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:51

    I had gotten this one headphonesfor the my personal mom towards parents time, and also she definitely liked things! Its really pretty headphonesand suggesting on the card in which comes within the package is really sentimental!! And top quality of beads is actually very good!

  • Comment Link
    hermes h bracelet replica Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:51

    I have this particular headphonesfor the my mom towards parents time, additionally she absolutely adored things! It really is quite sweet headphonesas well as the suggesting on the card that comes within the box is really sentimental!! And the grade of beads is awesome!

  • Comment Link
    Cathy Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:45

    I want to admit that this is incredibly helpful, Thank you for taking
    your time to compose this.

  • Comment Link
    Cheap China Jerseys Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:43

    For example, when your intention is to take loving care of yourself and your work is something you really enjoy, then working is not being used as an addiction. They should not merely toss the bucks without knowing what they are going to get. Typically, a medical assistant job description will comprise both administrative and even clinical projects.Recovery From Addictions: Part 1(This is Part 1 of a 5 part series on addiction).In no way enter an agreement with anyone with out first drawing up a legal contract.
    Cheap China Jerseys http://www.cheapsportsnfljerseys.us.com/

  • Comment Link
    Thalia Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:40

    Your grasp of this subject is impressive. It actually
    touched me and I'm happy I discovered this material.
    Thank you very much.

  • Comment Link
    George Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:39

    whoah this blog is fantastic i really like studying
    your articles. Stay up the good work! You already know, lots of individuals are searching around for this information, you could help
    them greatly.

  • Comment Link
    Quincy Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:38

    You should take part in a contest for one of many greatest blogs on the web.
    I will highly recommend this site!

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.