Pain management is serious business. Opioid medications — when given in the right dose and for the right length of time — provide significant relief from pain and can drastically improve a person’s quality of life.
In recent years, however, our nation has been in the grips of an opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids kill more than 92 people each day — 33,000 people annually.1
So, what is being done to fight this growing public health crisis? Can we find a balance between effective pain management and addiction prevention? What is the best way to help treat those struggling with opioid addiction? And — as neither the physician, nor pharmacist, nor patient — how can a health insurance company help?
Helping Providers, Pharmacists, and Patients
Opioid addiction often starts because of prescription medication abuse, and one in every three Medicare Part D beneficiaries took a prescription opioid in 2016.2,3 To help fight the problem, IBX is taking a multi-pronged approach. We’re working closely with our network providers and pharmacists to give them the tools, information, and resources they need to care for their patients who are prescribed opioids, including:
- Providing a comprehensive portfolio of online opioid awareness tools and resources
- Providing access to forms of naloxone, which are emergency treatment options for known or suspected opioid overdose
- Assessing prescription history and requiring prior authorizations for both new and ongoing opioid therapies*
- Delivering live-time system alerts to dispensing pharmacists when potential opioid overuse is identified
For our members struggling with addiction, our health plans include coverage for:
- In-network mental health providers, specialists, and therapists who deal with substance abuse issues
- In-network substance abuse rehabilitation facilities to help members receive in-patient medication-assisted treatment and therapy
- Medication-assisted treatments such as buprenorphine-containing medications like Suboxone®
What you can do
To see real, significant change, we all must do our part. From providers to patients, pharmacists to insurers — we are all responsible for handling opioid medications with the utmost care and caution.
If you, or your loved one, are prescribed an opioid pain medication, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself and others from potential misuse:
- Take them as prescribed. If you need to take opioids, do so only as directed — and stop taking them when you no longer need them for pain.
- Lock them up. Keep the medicine safe, secure, and out of the reach of children. (Nearly 68 percent of people age 12 and older who abuse pain medications say they get them from a friend or relative.4)
- Take them back. When no longer needed, pain medications should be disposed of at a Drug Take-Back Site.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
* Prior authorization is required for all high-dose opioids, long-term use, and opioid-containing patches
1 Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 16 December 2016.
2 Jones CM. Heroin use and heroin use risk behaviors among nonmedical users of prescription opioid pain relievers – United States, 2002-2004 and 2008-2010. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013; 132(1-2):95-100.
3 OIG analysis of Medicare Part D data, 2017
4 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Office of Applied Studies. National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 2014.