Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
A new report shows a more than 1,300% rise in spending by health insurers in a four-year period on patients with a diagnosis of opioid dependence or abuse (Source: “Study: Health Spending Related to Opioid Treatment Rose More Than 1,300%,” Kaiser Health News, September 12, 2016).
The Fair Health study found that 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% 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 non-profit databank that provides cost information to the health industry and consumers.
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.