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IBX Insights

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

Two Narcan inhalers

Since the late 1990s, the United States has seen a dramatic rise in the use and misuse of opioids, with 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. We are committed to fighting the opioid epidemic using a multi-pronged approach. One way we are 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 2022 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 400 percent increase in Narcan prescriptions.

By renewing the program for 2022, Independence can offer members access to this lifesaving medication to help people survive an overdose and get treatment if needed.

Learn more about how Independence is fighting the opioid epidemic.

Additional Plan Benefits

To further support our members through this growing crisis, Independence has implemented several opioid utilization safeguards. These can help prevent opioid abuse and offer 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, our Registered Nurse Health Coaches can 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 treatment options or pharmacy benefits by calling the Customer Service and Pharmacy Benefits numbers on the back of their member ID card.

Looking to the Future

We will continue to monitor the progress of all our programs, emerging trends, and the regulatory environment to map our course beyond 2022. Together, we can help bring an end to the opioid crisis, and we are proud to do our part.

*Where applicable, deductibles apply. In Pennsylvania, we will only apply deductibles in qualified high deductible health plans. Self-funded customers are not required to participate in the program.
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.