The Fight Against Opiate Addiction Has Gained a Powerful New Ally in the United States

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It’s not as though we often hear that health insurance companies south of our border go out of their way to help those in their care, but since the addiction problem has become such a serious one, the companies in the states that have been so hard hit by this horrible disease are taking the fight to addiction in an unprecedented way. With seven hundred confirmed deaths in Massachusetts already this year due to addiction issues, certain health care providers are investing millions of dollars to help those in their networks to deliver that long desired “knock-out” punch to their addiction issues. While the companies have chosen to go after a particular addiction, opioids and opiates, it is welcome news to thousands in Massachusetts and other states that saw their lives unravel so quickly due to these types of painkillers that have claimed so many lives and will continue to do so without the help of just about everyone who has a stake in the fight against them, such as doctors, addiction experts, treatment centers, government agencies and of course those ultimately responsible for covering the costs for an addict to get healthy.

The growing costs — in the billions of dollars nationally — have spurred insurers to tackle the opioid problem through a variety of new measures, including imposing restrictions on prescriptions for painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, because addiction often starts with such drugs, lifting restrictions for addiction treatment, and deploying case managers and coaches to guide patients through treatment. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, which first put limits on opioid prescriptions three years ago, is now contacting its members who are in detox programs to help coordinate their care and prevent relapses. Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan, a subsidiary of Boston Medical Center, has assigned staff to call and visit members with addiction to help them find and stick with treatments. Neighborhood Health Plan, the insurance arm of Partners HealthCare, where nearly 9 percent of members were diagnosed with substance abuse in the last year, recently partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital to hire a recovery coach to help members stay sober.

With the new measures of contacting those in treatment programs and the preventative actions of limiting the amount of painkillers prescribed to all patients, not just those addicted, can only lead to a fair amount of progress. With the health insurance companies now involved in the fight, those at risk of addiction and those already considered “addicted” have gained a powerful new ally in their struggle.

As someone who has written about addicted for over two years now, reading about this really did have an effect on me. I’ve read hundreds of articles about those fighting for their lives against an addiction to prescription painkillers, many of those articles being written by American news agencies baffled by the shear number of people affected by these types of drugs, and why it always seemed that no one was doing enough to help those trapped by their illness. It’s truly a welcome sight to me to read about the insurance companies taking action, regardless of their motives, to help those who need it most.

 

VIA: BOSTONGLOBE

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Sobriety Foundation

The Fight Against Opiate Addiction Has Gained a Powerful New Ally in the United States

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