The research shows 1 in 5 people received an opioid painkiller prescription at least once in 2015 alone.
A new insurance survey conducted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield revealed that over one in five Americans were prescribed opioid painkillers at least one time in 2015. This was based on claims data from policyholders covered by that insurer.
Moreover, opioid addiction and dependence claims have skyrocketed by 500 percent from 2010 to 2016.
The report on the insurance survey involved data based on coverage for 30 million people across the United States. These policyholders were all Blue Cross Blue Shield customers. The results underscore what health experts have been asserting for the last few years. The heart of the opioid overdose epidemic affecting the country is with the prescribing doctors who are issuing the prescriptions too freely, said the report.
In 2015, 21 percent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield policyholders filled at least one opiod prescription, said the insurance survey.
The report stated, “Data also show BCBS members with an opioid use disorder diagnosis spiked 493 percent over a seven year period.” This report did not include prescriptions filled by health insurance policyholders diagnosed with either cancer or a terminal illness. Its findings were comparable to other health care statistics regarding people covered by Medicaid, Medicare and other government health insurance coverage, said Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) chief medical officer, Dr. Trent Haywood.
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Haywood explained that the BCBSA data and the government health insurance data align. “It’s consistent,” he said.
Moreover, calling this problem an epidemic is not simply an attempt to create dramatic headlines. Opioid overdose has, in fact, reached epidemic proportions in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.”
The insurance survey report also determined that those most affected by the opioid overdose epidemic are also the least likely to obtain drug-assisted treatments to overcome it. This involves a combination of certain medications such as buprenorphine and counseling to help gradually ease person off their opioid addiction.