Fighting the Opioid Crisis: Independence Extends Program for Free Narcan/Naloxone

By October 28, 2020January 15th, 2021Employers Spotlight Well-being
Vial of Naloxone opioid overdose medication.

Since the late 1990s, the United States has seen a dramatic rise in the use and misuse of opioids, leading to record numbers of addictions and overdoses. Tragically, opioid overdoses continue to be an issue in our region and across the country, leading to what we now know as the opioid epidemic. The city of Philadelphia has been hit particularly hard — the city’s opioid crisis remains among the worst in the nation.

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) recognizes the devastating effects this crisis has had on people and families in our region and the community, and is committed to fighting the opioid epidemic. With a focus on protecting our members and community, Independence is taking a multi-pronged approach to combat this epidemic. One way that Independence is fighting the opioid crisis is by removing the cost for members for a lifesaving drug used to treat people who have overdosed on opioids.

Putting Members First

As part of these efforts, Independence is proud to announce that in 2021 it will continue to offer the opioid-reversal drug Narcan® (and the generic naloxone) at no cost* to our members who have prescription drug benefits through Independence. Narcan/Naloxone works by blocking the effects of opioids, and, in turn, can reverse an opioid overdose when administered in time.

Since the $0 cost-share program was introduced in 2018, Independence has seen an almost 166 percent increase in member utilization. By renewing the program for 2021, Independence is helping to ensure that our members have access to this lifesaving medication — so they can survive an overdose and get the treatment they need.

Additional Plan Benefits

To further support our members through this growing crisis, Independence has implemented several opioid utilization safeguards to help prevent opioid abuse and offers access to a variety of non‑opioid treatment options for members who need pain management including:

Multiple non-opioid medications without prior authorization

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Tricyclic anti-depressants (TCAs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Anti-convulsants (used for neuropathic pain)

Procedural interventions

  • Intra-articular corticosteroids injections
  • Implantable spinal stimulators

Alternative therapies

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Chiropractic Services
  • Acupuncture

Health Coaches Are Available

As an added level of support, Independence has registered nurse Health Coaches who are trained to help members find appropriate, covered treatment options. Members should consult their primary care physician on how best to meet their unique pain management needs.

Independence members can learn more about their pharmacy benefits or treatment options by calling the customer service numbers on the back of their member ID card.

Learn more about how Independence is fighting the opioid epidemic.

*Where applicable, deductibles apply. Self-funded customers are not required to participate in the program.


Jeffrey Green

About Jeffrey Green

Jeffrey Green leads product management for the prescription drug benefit for Independence. He is responsible for product development, benefit strategy, plan design, and supports sales and marketing. He works closely with informatics, actuarial, pharmacy services and Independence’s PBM to show how the use of analytics and other approaches can improve quality and total cost of care when providing medical and prescription drug benefits together.